Friday, October 02, 2015

On Track

I have sadly neglected this blog for some time now. I closed my eyes for a second, and suddenly it is October.
I have been busy working around the place. There is a lot that can be done, but it is a little overwhelming even thinking of trying to bring order to 3 1/2 acres of woods. A lot of it is brush, blowdowns, broken off limbs, and pretty much unusable as it is. Clearing out the limbs and blowdowns will take a long time. For now I am clearing trails so I can navigate through the underbrush without fighting.
Eventually I see a network of trails between small meadows amongst the trees. There are a lot of very nice mature Cedar trees interspersed with Fir, Alder and an occasional Maple. I want to clear a number of small clearings and plant them with wildflowers. They have a product called "Meadow in a Can" which is a mixture of wildflower seeds. Once you clear the ground, you just sprinkle the seeds and voila' you have 20 different kinds of wildflowers. I used it on a small scale before, but can't wait to see how it does semi-wild.
There is a lot of beauty bark on the yard near the house. Looks nice and inhibits the growth of weeds. The trees I was cutting and splitting for firewood were downed Fir of pretty good size. Had a lot of thick bark. Since the had been laying on the ground for some time, the bark came off pretty easy in the process of splitting it for firewood. I set it aside.
I decided to bite the bullet and get a chipper/shredder. I purchased a Brushmaster commercial grade model, which will handle anything up to 3". Bigger than that it is firewood, smaller it is beauty bark.
I managed to break it after one week. The pulley on the flywheel split in two. I have been waiting for the replacement for three weeks. In the meantime I have been taking the hatchet and cutting the bark into three inch wide strips so I can feed it into the chipper.
One of the reasons I bought the chipper is because they don't allow much in the way of outdoor burning. There has been a burn ban on since we moved in here and the local dump does not accept yard waste. With so much debris in the woods, the logical thing is to turn it into beauty bark.
My cousin, Ginger, her husband Pat, my cousin Rick and his wife Robyn came up from Oregon for a much too short visit. Wouldn't you know it, the day they were supposed to show up, the water failed. We are on a well, and we just suddenly had no water. We had to call the plumbing service. We chose Brother's Plumbing because they had surveyed the well when we bought the place. At first they thought it was burned out points on the float of the holding tank. but when they replaced them, still no go.
They had to pull the pump, which was at the end of 170 feet of galvanized pipe. That meant the boom truck, and a helper. It was interesting watching them pull the pipe sections and get to the pump. Of course the pump was shot. The bill was just under two grand. Oh well the pump was 20 years old, and now we should be good for another 20 years.
We warned the relatives that we were in the middle of a well crisis, but they came anyway. By the time they got here the plumbers were almost through, But when they got through, what was coming out of the taps was not fit for human consumption. The water in the toilets was of course, grody, so Ginger had to take a picture and post it on the internet.
The water still has a slight chemical taste, but not too bad. My well water is still better than city water.
The weather has been spectacular. The days have been sunny with the temperatures approaching 70, cooling off at night to the high 40s, low 50s. I have been setting the fire before I go to bed, so all Carol has to do in the norning is drop a match and add a log once it gets going. Electricity is expensive and wood is free.
The fall mushroons have sterted showing up. Lisa found a Shaggy Mane on the edge of the lawn, I found a bunch of Boletus Edulis in the yard, which I dries, and when we were on a hike the other day we came across a bunch of Agaricus Arvensis. Good stuff.
Now that i have in the winter wood, and the weather is cooling off, I will havemore "inside time" so I will try to be more regular about posting on this blog.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Makin' Wood

Get yer mind out of the gutter, that is not a sexual reference.
I got a Stihl chainsaw for my birthday. We have 3 1/2 acres of mostly woods. There are a number of trees down that need to be turned into firewood. And several more that are standing but dead. The previous owner left about a cord of cut, split and stacked firewood in a wood shed.
I figured I need to cut, split and stack at least another cord to feed the wood stove.
We have a heat pump, but electricity is expensive, and the wood is free (if you don't count the cost of the chain saw).
I have cut and split a lot of wood in my life, but it had been a quite a while since I ran a chain saw. The still start and run the same as they used to.
The first log I tackled was a downed fir about 2 1/2 feet in diameter. The chain saw has an 18" bar, so it was a double cut to start and get the root ball off of the tree. Worked just like I knew what I was doing. I cut a half dozen rounds, muscled them out of the woods, split them and put them in the wood shed. No big deal.
You know what happens when you get cocky. Fate smacks you down.
I forgot to refill the chain oiler. Next this you know the saw is straining, and not making much progress. Then it started smoking.
I turned it off, and let it cool. When It had cooled off, it would not restart. I noticed that the chain needed tightening. But the chain tightener wouldn't work, and the chain wouldn't move.
So I go in the shop and start tearing it apart. By that time I had realized that I had run it out of chain oil and overheated it.
When I pulled off the side case, I saw that the clutch bell had gotten so hot it had melted the case. When I shut it off, the plastic hardened, and the clutch bell wouldn't move.
No biggie. I just took a small pick and broke loose the bell, removed it and cleaned up the case. I was putting it back together and decided to make sure it ran. I started it up, and saw a retainer fall off and bounce across the shop floor. I managed to find it, but could not find the retainer clip.
I ended up having to make a trip into Port Angeles for the part. I took the saw and parts with me just to make sure I got the right part. Good thing I did, because I had also lost a couple of extra parts.
The total bill including a chain file was $15, so not bad.
Brought it home and put it together. First thing I did was put the chain on backwards. DUH!
Reassembled everything and went out and cut a couple of rounds. After the second one, it wasn't cutting well. The chain was not sharp any longer. On the last round, I got a little too deep and hit the ground. Chain saws really, really don't like to cut dirt. No surprise there.
So the saw is in my shop with me new chain file. It will be ready to go when I get back from the Doc's tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Medical Run Around

When I retired from Boeing, they no longer provided coverage through Group Health, so I had to go find a new provider.
I am 67, so I get Medicare, and Boeing provides part D coverage through Aetna, so coverage hasn't been too much of a problem. The problem is that we were selling our house and moving, so I needed to find a temporary doctor, which I did. It was a hassle because I am a long term Percocet user. I have stage four kidney disease, so taking over the counter NSAIDS is not an option.
I have been in several rear end car accidents, and also have a sports injury in my neck, all of which combine to keep me in constant pain.
I don't have a problem abusing Percocet. I have been taking it fir about  six years, and don't use any more now than when it was originally prescribed. I use one or two a day. Usually one.
Enter the damn politicians. Because of the politicians, you cannot get a prescription for more than a month at a time. Not only that they don't allow refills. You have to get a physical piece of paper each time.
Once we got settled here in Sequim, I set about establishing a Medical Provider.
Not an easy thing. It took five weeks to get my first appointment. Since I am an insulin dependant diabetic, it is a priority that establish a Medical Provider.
I accomplished that, but the Medical provider will not prescribe opioid. I was referred to a pain clinic that is an hour away. I can't get in until next Wednesday, a week away. I have four pills left.
This is not good. I will probably go through withdrawal. I am trying to hold off using any of the remaining pills. Maybe if I take one tomorrow and one every other day I will be OK. Still not sure if I will be able to sleep at night.
I have been eating a half of a peanut butter cannabis cookie at night to help me sleep. Maybe if I up my intake...
And maybe if I stay stoned I won't go through withdrawal.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Settling In

Tomorrow we will have been here three weeks.
We have almost dug ourselves out from under the enormous pile of possessions we moved from our former home. Not quite, but close enough that we have slowed down a little.
The Jensen Healey is in the garage, and with maybe another days work, I think I will be able to ease the Z into the other slot. But who knows which day. I am in no hurry.
We took the day off today. We jumped in the truck and went down to the Dungeness Spit for a hike. It has been several weeks since we hiked. Amazing how quickly things go soft. The hike from the trail head to the tip of the spit is a litle over five miles, so that would have made it eleven miles round trip.
A little too ambitious for first time out.
So we walked about half the way out and then back.
We saw a lot of shore birds. We saw an eagle perched on a piling eating a fish, and we saw several harbor seals. It was partly cloudy, temperature in the upper 60s, so perfect for a hike.
As a reward we stopped at the Black Bear Cafe for lunch. They were all out of Pie! So I was forced to eat a generous portion of huckleberry ice cream. O the Humanity!
Several people have told me that in the fall, our area is frequented by cougar and bear coming down out of the hills, so I went in search of a gun. I had pretty much settled on a lever action 30 - 30, but not on which model. When we went into town, there was a Winchester model 94 on consignment. It was a 1981 build, before Winchester farmed out all the manufacturing to subcontractors. Book value $300 - 500. It was in near perfect condition, with one bad spot in the bluing about the size of a pin head. Marked down to $375. I bought it on the spot. I still need to get out and sight it in, something I will probably do next week.
We still have lots of exploring to do.
I have been picking wild trailing blackberries every night. I noticed a couple of runners next to the mailbox, and once I started looking for then, a few more here and there. I generally get a couple of ounces every day. By the time the season is over, I should have enough to make a nice big batch of sugar free blackberry jam.
Speaking of which, it is time to go pick berries

Monday, June 29, 2015

Home in the Woods

It has all been worth the effort and confusion and stress.
I wake up in the morning to the sounds of the birds and maybe the wind in the trees. No sirens, no cars with booming stereos. No noisy neighbors. No police. No jets.
The property is 3 1/2 acres of mostly cedar, good size trees. Pretty heavy undergrowth. All slightly uphill from the road. We are about 100 yards from the end of the pavement, and the end of the county road.
All my adult life I have worked for exactly this. No alarm clock, no timetables
Not that I have nothing to do.
First of all, there is the task of digging out from under the mountain of stuff. The house is a little smaller than the other house. 1720 sq ft vs 1760 sq ft. but on the other hand it has a two car garage and shop, so I figure it is a wash. That doesn't mean everything moves straight across. The floor plans are completely different, so things need to move around.
As of right now the sports cars are parked in the driveway because the garage is full of stuff. A lot of it just has to be organized and stowed away before I can make room for the Z and the Jensen.
It will take a couple of weeks to get organized so I can start to work on the cars. I think the easiest thing to do will be to tear the front end of the engine apart and redo the timing.
Once that is done the I can start tearing the Jensen apart. I had it stripped down to bare metal and painted a couple of years ago. Unfortunately the gut that painted it did not have a water trap on the line of his compressor, so tiny drops of water were deposited under the paint, which are now showing as rust heads. I need to strip the whole thing down to bare metal and start over.
I think I will tear it all the way down and do a nut and bolt restoration as long as I am at it.
Then there is the whole thing with three and a half acres to work on.
All in my own time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Ten Days Out

Closing on our house is June 22nd.
Closing on the new house in Sequim is June 22nd.
The movers will be here on June 22nd
The car transport people will be here on June 22nd
Then there's all the other stuff. Have the electricity turned off, get the water shut off. Ger the cable TV and computer line.  shut down, Go to the Post Office and put in a change of address. Garbage service.
I don't want to be a growed up any more.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day 2015

On a December morning about two weeks before Christmas, mu Uncle Steve went to the closet and got out his 30.06 hunting rifle, say down in his chair, put the muzzle in his mouth and pulled the trigger with his toe.
He left behind an ugly mess of brains and blood on the wall behind him.
He also left behind a wife and six kids.
Uncle Steve had been shot through the jaw on d-day in Normandy. It took away a good bit of his jawbone ans some of his tongue. The managed to reconstruct his jawbone and give him dentures for his mossing teeth, but he was never a complete person afterwards.
Afterwards he was never the same. He dragged his wife and kids all over the west coast of the U.S., never settled in one place for long. More than his jawbone was shattered on that June morning.
So this is dedicated to the forgotten casuaties of war. The ones who gave their lives for their country, maybe not on the battlefield, but nonetheless because of it.
Here's to the broken men that come back from war, but never return home, who struggle with their experiences and never quite heal. To those who, in the stillness of the night contemplate the cold round circle, the blue barrel or the bottle of pills.
They died for your freedom just as surely as if they had died on the battlefield.