Saturday, March 27th, 2010

yard workI spent the afternoon trimming branches off some of the bushes in the yard that got hammered pretty badly by the monster snowfall we had back in December. After having a look at the damage to the great big cedar in the front yard I figured it had to come down completely; the problem was, it was really a tree, not a bush. I don’t have the tools to cut down a tree.

I suppose it probably started life as a shrub, and maybe it remained a shrub for many years, but at some point it grew wildly out of control and it’s been a tree by virtue of its enormous size since before we moved in. It was about twenty feet tall and had a trunk that was probably a foot thick at its base. I’ve got a pruning saw and a bow saw. I might as well have tried to cut it down with a toenail clippers.

But I made a start of it by lopping off the broken branches I could reach, then stepping up onto a low branch and lopping off a few more, and so on until I had climbed about ten feet up into the branches and had managed to hack away just about all of the topmost branches.

yard workThis was about the time Harley showed up. Harley almost always comes over when I’m doing yard work to see what I’m up to and offer to help if he can. This often turns out well because Harley seems to collect chain saws the way I collect typewriters. As it turned out, he just bought a new one last weekend and seemed to be itching to try it out. “Did you want to cut the whole thing down?” he asked eagerly. Why yes, Harley, I believe I did.

So he went back to his place to break out his new toy. In the meantime, I trimmed off as many of the lower branches as I could to make it easier for him to get at the base of the monster. When he came back, it took him barely ten minutes to do what I would have needed a couple weeks of heart-pounding work to finish with my little bow saw. Harley is the coolest neighbor I believe I’ve ever had.

Once the beast was felled he cut the trunk into chunks about a foot long and advised me to stack them by the curb. “They usually disappear overnight when you do that,” he said.

yard work

felled | 8:10 pm CDT
Category: daily drivel, Our Humble O'Bode | Tags:
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Friday, March 19th, 2010

I had to come up with something quick and easy to serve for guy night because I had to have plenty of time to perform a minor plumbing unblockage on the pipe that the kitchen sink drains into. When it’s blocked all the goop backs up and pools in the basement sink. It’s pretty gross.

So we stopped at the co-op on the way home to buy some sliced ham and some cheese and I pan-fried some ham & cheese sandwiches. Voila! Dinner! We even splurged and I served them with Tater Tots because we called Tim on the way home to invite him over for ham and cheese and plumbing fun, but he didn’t answer his phone and apparently doesn’t check his messages, so we had the Tater Tots all to ourselves.

We also picked up copies of the Isthmus, a weekly advertising tabloid that just printed the schedule for the Wisconsin Film Festival that My Darling B and I started going to last year and will now go to each year until we’re too decrepit to move under our own power because it’s that much fun. We even asked for several days off from work so we could see more films this year. After our delicious, nutritious dinner we sat reading the film schedule for almost an hour, ticking off the films that interested us. We haven’t compared notes yet so I don’t even know whether or not B got through the whole schedule yet. I didn’t.

Then it was on to plumbing fun! I’ve carried out this particular operation before so I knew just what to do, and exactly how much I didn’t like to do it. First thing was to take apart the p-trap under the kitchen sink and the basement sink. Pretty straightforward, smells a bit, gets the hands very dirty. Next step: Bring in a garden hose, hook it up to the spigot in the laundry. That part really sucks because I have to either move the wash machine out of the way, which I’m not going to do unless I have all afternoon or a trained gorilla to move it, or I can work in the four-inch space between the machine and the wall. Takes forever to work a wrench in that four-inch space and I usually bark my knuckles bloody.

I hooked up another hose downstairs for the basement sink. To the end of each hose I attached a black rubber bulb. The bulb goes in the drain pipe and fills with water when the hose is turned on so that the bulb blocks the pipe and forms a plug from which, theoretically, no water can escape. A small hole in the end of the bulb shoots a jet of water down the drain. Turn both hoses on, let the water run for a while and, theoretically again, the water will push the blockage down the pipe and into the sewer. Worked last time I tried it. And worked again this time.

It’s a pretty simple, cheap fix, really. We already have garden hose, and the little black rubber bulbs cost about a buck fifty each at the hardware store. Saved us a couple hundred dollars getting a plumber out here, who would probably have done what I did.

The part I really hate is the clean-up. The hoses always dribble all over the floor no matter how care I am while I unhook them. I have to drag the long hose outside to drain it, and it weighs something like a thousand pounds when it’s full of water. The rubber bulbs get covered with nasty sewer pipe gunk that has to be washed off because it smells like Satan’s farts. I’d be tempted to just throw them away and get new ones if I didn’t use them so often. And finally, I have to put the p-traps back together. My fingernails are gray for a week after all this.

But the drains work and we can wash clothes again, yay.

guy night | 6:33 am CDT
Category: adventures in plumbing, daily drivel, entertainment, festivals, food & drink, Guy Night, movies, Our Humble O'Bode, play, Wisc Film Fest
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Monday, January 18th, 2010

brassworkWho would look at a nifty brass light fixture like this one and think, “You know, what would really make that look better is an uneven coat of crap-colored spray paint. And I just happen to have a can in the basement!”

My Darling B got this for me at the last auction we went to. I think she paid all of three bucks for it. As is, it looked like she paid too much for it, but after a couple hours careful work with a wire brush attachment in a Dremel moto-tool I got it to look like this. The paint, lumpy and old, just went poof! when the wire brush hit it. Took a while to get it out of all those little nooks and crannies, though.

She got the rest of the lamp, too, all but the shade and the light bulb. It’s a floor lamp on a tall wooden spindle. The spindle looks great, only needs a quick bit of sanding and staining, but the base needs quite a lot of work. I’m not sure there’s enough glue in my work shop to put it back together, maybe not in all the Ace hardware stores in Madison. But even if I throw that away, the brass was worth it.

brasswork | 3:29 pm CDT
Category: hobby, Our Humble O'Bode, scrub-a-dub-dub
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Sunday, January 10th, 2010

I spent the morning atop a step ladder, painting the ceiling in one of the bedrooms, which freaked the heck out of the cats. They always get a little twitchy whenever we’re not sitting on our butts or sleeping because, really, that’s what they see us do most of the time.

In the morning after our showers we sit down to eat our breakfast, then we disappear for the whole day. When we come home from work we sit down to eat dinner, then we sit down to read or otherwise relax in the living room, then we go to bed. On the weekends we usually go somewhere. If we don’t, we usually sit and read, or sit and eat, or go to sleep.

Breaking the routine is apparently so weird they just don’t know what do to with themselves, prowling restlessly and making distressed little mewing sounds.

But you gotta do what you gotta do, no matter how unhappy it makes the cats. When we moved here almost five years ago, Tim asked if he could paint his room. The walls were a, shall we say, vibrant shade of burgundy. He wanted plain old blue, so we bought him a pail of paint and said have at it. He did a pretty good job of it, too. Masked off the baseboards and put down lots of newspaper, but he never masked off the tops of the walls, so the blue ended up all around the upper edges of the ceiling.

Now that Tim’s moved out, we want to use that room as an office, put a desk and some shelves and a filing cabinet in there. But before we move all that crap in there, tidying up the paint on the ceiling would be a good idea, so that’s why I was scaring the cats this morning. And I got to sniff paint fumes for a couple hours, too. Latex paint, though, darn it. It’s like trying to get high off watercolors.

LATER: As it turned out, it wasn’t the quick tidying-up job I thought it would be. The flat white paint made the edges of the ceiling look a little too good, and now the rest of the ceiling, paint faded with age, will have to be completely repainted. Isn’t that just the way?

painterly | 8:41 pm CDT
Category: Our Humble O'Bode, painting
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