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Letters home to mom

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    • Coda
      Posting these cat-cartoons-without-the-cartoon was a long journey that I don’t know if I’ll repeat soon again. A daily blog is tough … even when you have your material handed to you! But, I couldn’t have done it without the artwork … Continue reading →
    • December 31, 2011
      Father Time is riding out his last few minutes of being the temporal keeper for 2011; he sits in an easy chair with a calendar showing “Dec 31” behind him and a grandfather clock pointing to the time of 11:53. … Continue reading →
    • December 30, 2011
      A happy young lady shares a table at a tony restaurant with her cat; they both wear festive, cone-shaped party hats. The woman gaily says to the tuxedoed server, “One martini and one glass of milk.” The cat does not … Continue reading →

Archive for the ‘Me’ Category

Speaking of books …

Posted by joeabbott on March 10, 2017

WP_20170305_14_45_21_ProFor about 10 years now, Suzy has been compiling our annual photographs into a “best of” printed volume. The books are 100-ish color pages of glorious us. Yup, we have all these images digitally; yup, we lived that life so there’s nothing new here; and, yup, it’s just a photo album … but I look forward to paging through these every time I find one on a coffee table or on the bookshelf.

I’m not sure what makes these books special; as I noted, we have the digital images. But, there’s something about the tactile quality you can get paging forward, dropping back, and seeing the various instances of our lives in a curated fashion. And it’s not the many thousands of pictures you might get clicking through something on a computer or flicking through them on your phone: they’re just the select, best-of moments that are special in so many ways.

Take for instance last year. Suzy chose a picture of me in the bed of my new-ish truck, arms wide, grinning madly at a tilted rhododendron we were about to plant in our new property. New truck, new property, a plant that a buddy gave me that will grace our new home for years … and that smile that says, “I’m enjoying life!” It’s hard to beat seeing that printed on the cover of a hardback book!

And so, sure, we lived that life so there’s nothing new or truly surprising that we’ll bump into in the pages, but she was a little late on the 2015 book and as we sat side-by-side paging through it when it arrived, we continued to say, “was it that long ago that happened?” or “I thought we had that <insert name of thing here> a lot longer than that!” It’s just fun to relive the very best moments of your life with a quick flip-flip-flip. Even those photos that won’t be meaningful to anyone else.

So, that’s it. If you keep scrapbooks, you’re probably ahead on this score but if you’re use to just cataloging your vacations and days by snapping digital pics and saving them on a hard drive somewhere, I strongly recommend spending some time making your own best-of.

Thanks for dropping in.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day and Suzy

Posted by joeabbott on March 5, 2017

imageMy wife does many things well but in one of her many exemplary qualities, she shares of herself; and as St. Patrick’s Day approaches, she handed me an envelope to get into the mail to her father in a distant town. Yup, good old USPS mail for a family member who lives farther away than is easy to share our day-to-day events with.

In addition to a newsy letter and some pics from recent gatherings and to-do events here in Seattle, she had created a St. Patrick’s Day greeting card for him. While the original art is based on the Farmville game, she spent the time making a quick recreation rather than just cut-and-paste from a web search. The clever design gave me a bit smile (perhaps you have to be a chicken owner), but I really liked that she continued to keep family in the loop and put time and effort into that connection.

So, for those of my family members who aren’t receiving a St. Patrick’s Day greeting in the mail, this post is for you!

Smile

Thanks for dropping by!

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Another few days

Posted by joeabbott on January 2, 2017

There are a lot of ways I can spend a day but sometimes hanging out at home is about the finest way to enjoy a little time.

After snowshoeing on Friday, my legs were expectedly tired these past few days and so I’m “taking it easy”. As far as industry goes, I attacked the pile of “stuff” that was sitting on the floor in my home office and reduced that to: old packages I could break down and recycle, pieces of hardware of varying degrees of value, and cables. The recyclables were quickly addressed and I put so order into the cables, but we’re in a conundrum about the hardware … it’s good stuff, we just don’t need it and I’ve misplaced the original box. Do we continue to store it? Give it to Re-PC (a component recycler), or try to sell it and recoup some cost? Jury is out but I’m leaning to cleaning out my closet and just giving it to Re-PC.

Aside from that, I’ve played a lot of Dark Souls 3 … a game on my Xbox that has taken a surprising turn. Earlier this year, Microsoft published a Windows computer version of their Xbox environment. That is, I can log onto my PC and see what games people are playing, chat with them as if I was on the Xbox, and all sorts of other stuff. I would have thought the social aspects would be the least interesting to me, as I’m not a big co-op game player, but they’ve actually opened a new part of gaming that I never cared about before.

These days I find myself logging on, playing with “friends”, leaving messages for people who have crossed paths with me in the Dark Souls world, and generally changing how I play. Over the last few days I’ve found myself thinking: I should check in on the chat boards to see if anyone needs help and I can drop into their world. Pretty unheard of compared to how I usually have played.

But, playing games is just part of what I’ve been doing. A big part, but just part. With the weather as chilly out here as it’s been, the casual walks Suzy and I take or the activities we’d participate in outside are on hold: 29°F is just too cold for anything more than quick chores outside to care for the chickens or things like that. And so we find ourselves sitting together and chatting; which is very nice.

Or, we’ll run the occasional errand or eat out. We typically don’t eat out a lot but, with being on vacation, we’re changing that a bit; trying the small shops we may not typically frequent, using coupons we’ve been holding onto, and the like. It’s typically higher calorie than we normally enjoy, but we always come home with a doggie bag.

And that’s about it. I’d love to talk about hikes I’ve been on, projects coming off my workbench, or new places we’ve seen, but these last few days have been quiet, easy days. And, as a change, that’s nice … but I’d lie if I didn’t say I’m looking forward to getting back into a routine that makes me feel a bit more industrious.

Thanks for checking in on my small doings; your quiet company is always appreciated.

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The last few days

Posted by joeabbott on December 29, 2016

I started blogging near-daily while on vacation to help me track what I did on the various days … and here it is, Thursday, and I have a lot of “missing time” to account for!

Monday

On Monday I did nothing. I lived and breathed and ate, so hardly “nothing”, and yet … nothing.

OK, I’m reminded that we ran a few chores: we wanted to go to the Sunbreak Café this day (see Wednesday day for more details) but it was closed on Mondays, so we did the next best thing: Legendary Donuts. While they don’t have delicious steamed and fried baby red potatoes, they got a salted caramel pretzel donut that is something else. Delish.

After that, we ran to a local Wal-Mart to peruse their holiday sales items: 50% off on all decorations. Suzy waded into the (surprisingly sparse) masses, while I sat in fear clutching the handle to the cart. We not only managed to get some replacement animals for our lighted display that appears to want to burn out faster than we can repair them, but she got an extra item or two … a little teaser for 11 months from now when we put them up!

Other than that, I believe I may have played some video games, may have done a little reading, and mostly just hung out … but essentially, nothing. It was glorious.

WP_20161217_10_04_00_ProTuesday

On Tuesday I helped Suzy at the Puget Sound Goat Rescue (PSGR), an endeavor that continues to take more and more of her time, and happily at that. It’s a good place to volunteer and helps a small slice of this world that can use a little help. On our last visit I asked Barbara, the operation director, what she planned on doing in the next few months as she’d had great success in bringing her charges back to health and homing many of them; take some time off, she replied. And then, on Christmas day, she was called to rescue two baby goats that were born in the slaughter house and she figured, “if you’re heading there, make it worth the trip”. The trip is about 6 miles one way … and, to make it worth her while, she rescued something like 16 goats.

She doesn’t take all goats, but will walk through the pens and selects any goat that had obviously been a pet that someone turned in because they no longer chose to take care of it. These animals are friendly, well-adjusted, and would do well as someone else’s pet and shouldn’t be a “meat animal”. I’m amazed at this woman’s quiet strength and resolve: taking on 16 new animals when you planned on some downtime is impressive. And, being on the slaughter house floor, these animals invariably contract just about every social disease imaginable and require extra care to rehabilitate. On top of the trauma from the experience as well as being deprived food, water, and generally reasonable living conditions.

Anyhow, this post took an unexpected turn … apologies for that detour.

But four hours of my Tuesday was spent helping Barbara and her charges. I brought my chainsaw and spent a solid hour and then some trimming up some lower branches on a cedar tree; the roomie, sheltered understory will be a perfect refuge for goats as they walk about. It was fun bringing the downed branches back to the compost\burn pile, as the goats thought it an awfully tasty snack. I was constantly jerked to a stop as some hoofed animal or other would step on the branch to slow down my progress so they could enjoy a little nibble before it got to the pile.

Goats aren’t known to go for cedar but it must have been something a browsing animal deeply understood … greens from a branch were natural, compared to hay from a feeder. It was so popular, I saw Barbara later bringing one of the branches to another of her pens in which some segregated goats were spending some time. And, before we left, it had been nibbled and dragged around by the two boys in that space.

After trimming up the cedar I then set that spinning blade to a Japanese maple of some variety. The PSGR has a couple locations and Barbara announced she was spending some time\money on tidying up this location. Many of the adoptions occur at “Baby Goat Central”, which is a beautiful facility. And, while the place Suzy and I volunteer at the “rehabilitation location”, it’s fine: it’s just the barns are a little older, the fences not quite as straight, and there’s a bit more muck and weed than you’d have at a public facing facility. I note this because, as we looked at the line for a new fence that was being installed, the Japanese maple had a number of large branches directly in the path.

So I took them out.

By this time my saw was becoming dull and I had to decide on whether to spend time sharpening it or just keep bearing down and finish up with a dull blade. I went for the latter but will need to pay the piper … or sharpen that blade … before I use it next.

After this, I helped Barbara cut some of the tags out of the goats’ ears. These are markers they get along the path and don’t always have the right infection-fighting medicine to keep from being a problem. While, I’m told, removing the tags isn’t necessarily painful, the goat remembers that tag going in and isn’t going to let you easily mess with it. We got a couple goats pretty easily but our last goat had a harder time … I cut the tag close to the post and wasn’t able to easily pry it up so it could slip through the hole. It took us three tries but we finally removed it. Barbara says I did fine … and yet I felt terrible for not doing better and at that point thought we should adopt that goat as way of apology for the pain I caused it.

Anyhow, after that, I helped with hauling hay and bags of wood pellets (used to absorb urine in the barns) while Suzy did a bit of mucking things out. We took a small break to share some carrots with the goats and generally give them some “people time” but headed home as the rain started to intensify. At home we made a big pot of bean soup with some ham from our Christmas Eve dinner and enjoyed that after a looooong shower.

Wednesday

Wednesday was another “play day”, but rather than spend it in front of a monitor, we headed out for dim sum and a movie. A year or so back, we gave one of my in-laws a gift card that split between a restaurant and a movie … I think it was a 50th b-day and there were gift cards for $25 at the restaurant and $25 at a movie. They either thought it was a great idea or just re-gifted us the exact same thing because, on my last birthday, I got the exact same thing. Now, I take no umbrage at this turn and the weekend of my birthday we went out to eat and this weekend we took in a movie.

Dim sum was enjoyable, we got all our favorites without over-ordering … just the right amount. And, as we were early for the showing of Rogue One, we spent a quick 45 minutes walking about the various shops in the area and burning off our recent meal and ready for another snack: popcorn.

I always get popcorn at movies (we go rather infrequently) and always adore what I see. I would be hard-pressed to imagine me panning a movie. Maybe Hollywood knows how to appeal to my type of viewer, or maybe I can’t come to grips with disparaging something I’d pay that much to see, but I can’t recall a movie I’ve disliked. Yes, some are certainly more memorable than others but, as with Rogue One, I enjoy the spectacle of spaceships and explosions, of obvious villains and dashing\pretty heroes, and all of it supporting a story I can follow. Good stuff.

On returning home we did a few petty chores … the sort of activity you’re up for after sitting for 2+ hours. We then parted for our various pursuits and met up for another meal of soup at around 7PM. For those who think two days of soup is one too many, you’re missing out. Something about spending a day in the fridge getting nice and thick, the low simmer of a second heating, about how well it all tastes on a rainy day  … yum!

Today … Thursday

Today I slept in … I think I’m finally getting into the swing of vacation; just in time for getting back to work next week. I slept until 8:15AM and it felt great. But, I remembered we’d made a date for going to a favorite breakfast haunt of ours (Sunbreak Café in Kent) and hurried up to find Suzy ready.

I’m getting used to her driving us everywhere … as is our habit when we don’t need to haul something in my truck. But, while she drove us south, I caught up on my “Bing points” and lazily woke up. But, at the Sunbreak, we got our “usuals” (which is in quotes because, while they are the usual things we get, we so infrequently go to the Sunbreak, it felt odd not to include the quotes): Suzy had an omelet with cheese and spinach and I got the eggs Benedict. And both orders were so big, we got the to-go boxes because we always take home about half the food that comes to the table.

On the drive back, we picked up some pine bedding for our chickens … they didn’t need it but we were in the area. Once we got home, we did a few chores, let the cats out to run off a little madness, Suzy headed to the potting shed to propagate a few more starts and I headed upstairs to type this up.

And now the skies have quietly opened on us and I’ll spend the rest of the afternoon sending out thank you notes and further cleaning the mess that’s my home office.  A very fine day for continuing a slow pace and enjoying life away from the office desk.

Coda

And that’s it … three rather lazy days and each of them a gem. My thanks for you looking in.

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Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

Posted by joeabbott on December 29, 2016

Well, I’ve kept up a pretty good set of posts on my doings, but feel I’ve fallen off in the last couple days. One word excuse: Christmas.

I’ll create a post with our yearly holiday lights but they won’t look too much different for last year … next year there will be some differences but you’ll have to wait for that story until later.

WP_20161224_16_30_26_ProWP_20161224_12_04_40_ProOn Christmas Eve we hosted Suzy’s side of the family: doors opened at noon (or, 11AM for my father-in-law who traveled a long way through snow and mountain passes to join us) and we went until around 8:30PM. While we didn’t send anyone home, things wound down, folks had their fill of good foods and treats, and we were all ready for a rest. Here are a few pics:

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And, as is becoming usual for Suzy and I, we can’t go to bed with a messy house so we went on a cleaning binge for the next three hours, exhausted but happy for a clean home and the ability to sleep in.

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On Christmas Day it was just Suzy and me. We called my family back in MN a couple times but otherwise just enjoyed our time together. We had breakfast and then opened our “socks” to each other in the AM and then split to our separate pursuits for the next few hours. After dinner we dove into presents sent from my family to us and gifts we bought for the other.

While this year we limited our gifts to each other to “two”, I came across a bookstore in Burien that was going out of sale and had to pick up a couple items they had on their sparsely populated shelves. They’ll be missed … we never went to Burien specifically for this store, but we always stopped in while when we were walking by.

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I’ll hold for a later post on what Suzy gave me … I’ve written quite enough on things I’ve received, but “what did I give”? Well, maybe our 25 or so years of being together is showing, but I got her a electric (heated) throw and some nice owl-shaped bookends … and with each I gave  separate book! You can’t have heated throw without something to read while under it and bookends without books? Unheard of!

I will say that a day or two after Christmas we had a working day and, as Suzy sat on the couch I slipped my legs under her throw … now I can completely see why she likes “pumped in heat” so much! It was pretty amazing to feel the tightness, fatigue, and general pain slip away. I liked it!

And that was it for Saturday and Sunday. Thanks for looking in on us!

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WoJ 2016

Posted by joeabbott on December 23, 2016

Truth be told, chronicling the Week of Joe is a bit embarrassing … it feels a bit gratuitous to get a week of gifts but I’m not going to say I don’t like it. Some years are a bit ostentatious, but we’ve recently hit a nice pattern of getting those things that have stayed on a wish list for a long time or that fill out whatever kit we’re trying to fill. Suzy will get books and socks and I’ll get … well, let’s take a look at what I got.

First, let me just say that, bless her soul, Suzy had trouble counting. I suspect she counts just fine but wanted to give me an extra smile during my “week”, but she said she thought she had seven gifts but ended up wrapping eight. Again, no complaints here.

WP_20161223_08_28_30_Pro1-3: Shop time

The “kit” that I like to fill is my shop and tool cabinet, and Suzy came through with some fundamentals … things always in demand but are overlooked when we want a hammer, drill, plane, or chisel. She picked up three items from my list that will go a long way to keeping me happy puttering about my shop: a grinding wheel, a collection of sandpaper strips, and some sawhorse brackets.

The grinding wheel is a must for any shop-rat who wants to keep a keen edge on his\her tools and needs to clean up a knick or two. The 8” Norton ceramic wheel she picked up will eat away the surface in a jiffy and leave me ready to put a final edge on my chisels, planes, and other edges. I want to just slap this onto my grinder and give it a try, but the wheel came with a small dissertation on mounting, balancing, and dressing it. Time for a little reading, first.

The sandpaper strips are just that: a box of 5 grits from 80x to 320x that are 1” wide and 20’ long. While sheets of sandpaper are great for large, flat surfaces, I’m finding that I have a lot of simple curves, tight spaces, and smaller areas that these will be perfect on. While sanding isn’t “fun”, it’s a lot more enjoyable when you have the right tools!

Finally, the sawhorse brackets are four parts I can slip sections of 2×4 lumber into and quickly create sawhorses … and, just as quickly, knock them down again for easy storage. When working from a small bay in my garage, something like this is perfect. Best of all, they’re not plastic (like my current sawhorses) and can take a 4’ wide top support piece, allowing them to easily and completely support a full sheet of plywood.

4-5: Sharps and keep-em-sharp

I have a lot of knives … but, at least one fewer than I need. And so Suzy will help by picking up whatever knife is on my list in hopes that it’s “the one”. It will never be, but I like her efforts! This year I got a knife that has a barber’s straight-edge style razor blade on it. It’s so sharp it knocks hairs off my arm just getting near it and it’s one of the few blades that actually makes me nervous when open. Perhaps is the thinness of the blade? Maybe the length? Or, most likely, because it’s about the sharpest thing I’ve held in my hands in … well, ever. It has a beautiful rosewood handle and solid as can be. It’s a good one.

And, to keep it (and many other blades) sharp, she got me perhaps my fourth sharpening kit. And this one may be it. It’s a Spyderco ceramic setup that fits into a compact case but, when setup, has a couple of three-sided, 7” long “sticks” that stand at just the right angle to give a knife the perfect edge. I’ve used it on our kitchen knifes and am quite happy with the results. I have other kits that I’ll use to prep my blades, but this is the kit I’ll use for that final edge.

6: Games

I collect Lord of the Rings stuff and have a number of games that I have purchased, but just don’t (and won’t) play. You see, I’m collecting. It’s the sorta thing that, at worst, I’ll pass away and leave to someone else to throw into the trash bin or, at best, allow some enterprising nephew or niece to sell on Ebay for pennies on the dollar. But, until that time, I’ll have it in my “collection” and can take it out, look at the package, and be happy knowing that I have it. And the “it” this time is an expansion to a game I have called (not quite so imaginatively) Lord of the Rings … this expansion is called Lord of the Rings: Friends and Foes.

I feel my nerdiness will get the best of me if I continue, so let’s leave this one there. If you’re ever over, feel free to ask to look at it … just don’t expect to play it. 🙂

7: Joining my grandparents

If my grandparents had driven I just know they would have owned the “sunglasses over prescription glasses” sorta eyewear. Perhaps it’s being 6’0” and 230# that makes me feel immune to ridicule, perhaps it’s my comfort in being a manly man; or maybe I just don’t care what others think. There are times I’m driving and wearing my prescription glasses and the sun will poke out uncomfortably … at those times I enjoy (yes, enjoy) popping on my grandpa-style glasses and driving on.

I had a pair of these but one of the arms broke off … and, I continue to wear them. While I may not care what others think, Suzy will help the Seattle Abbott clan retain a small amount of dignity: she got me another pair.

And the eighth gift was …

imageIt can hardly be considered a gift-getting event without getting a book of some sort, and Suzy came through. It’s not in the picture because it’s already beside my bed, but she got me An Illustrated Book of Bad Arguments.

You can get the entire book online at the link above, but having it in your mitts, turning the pages to and fro without a mouse, and reading as you doze off … all are wonderful benefits to having the actual book in your hand. And you support an author who has done a wonderful job of simply and succinctly summarizing a great many logical fallacies people bring to the discussion table. I’ve read it twice and will easily go through again another couple times, if only to snigger and blanch at seeing how many of these mental landmines I’ve stumbled on in my own passionate arguing.

Coda

And, “that’s it”. Another year of embarrassing riches and another haul of booty to put to use, put aside to admire, or to use with great respect. While WoJ 2016 is in the books, a great many items I received from Suzy on that week will remain in use for a very long time.

Thanks for dropping in.

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Where does the time go?

Posted by joeabbott on December 22, 2016

OK … yesterday was a blur and today is on the way out. Not sure what that says for my ability to manage time but it sure goes fast when you’re not watching it closely.

Yesterday I got that big monitor I was talking about earlier … it’s nice. They delivered it in the AM so I was able to get out and do some last minute Christmas shopping for Suz around noontime … and, just as I got home and settled, she returned from a morning tea with a friend. That left us time for a quick meal and then … well, I got sucked into setting up my work\play area and some gaming. I play a game called Dark Souls and in it, other players can ask for and offer help. It’s not a simple thing … folks need to be around your level (or set a password) and in the same area, but I “left my sign” and someone summoned me into their game. Once in, I can help them go through areas, defeat enemies, and ultimately take on the “boss” of that zone. And so I did that … and got swept into a couple hours helping a guy. It was a lotta fun but, around 7:30, I signed off and Suzy and I spent the balance of the day chatting before an early bedtime.

Today we headed up to the property to check in on things and pick up another load of woodchips for some paths around our home. The last time we did this, the walkway was so improved that the change was enough to sell us on getting a second load. While we were in Granite Falls, we stopped by our favorite BBQ place and then headed to “Glen’s Rentals” where we pestered Justin for a short half hour on all the various home(stead) implements they rent, how to use them, and what their prices and policies are. It was time well-spent and we left without renting anything but better informed and we know where to go when we need a bobcat, backhoe, post-digger, or any of the other tools we’ll need for setting up our new home.

On the way up and back we listened to All the Light We Cannot See … and you can expect a write-up here … it was a fantastic tale full of beautiful (and haunting) imagery and wording. An exceptional story. But, we got back to SeaTac, did a little shopping for groceries, and then spread the chip when we finally got home … enjoying the last of the daylight and some dry weather.

After that I wrapped a few gifts for Christmas and am now settling into a massively messy office but getting in a little computer\Xbox time.

I’m liking vacation! Thanks for poking your nose in!

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Week of Joe … coming!

Posted by joeabbott on December 21, 2016

In preparation for my annual Week of Joe post … I present a snap Suzy took during some gift-receiving event or other. No guarantees this was WoJ or even this year … just a snap she applied some filter or other to:

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Glorious.

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Yesterday … a bit of a slack day

Posted by joeabbott on December 20, 2016

Yesterday I had one chore: clean my office. And it was one of the many things I didn’t do. It was a slack day.

About 10AM our vet came to the house to check in on our cats, take samples, and generally see to their health; it’s an annual checkup. And getting a house call for the cat? BEST MOVE EVAR! No cat anxiety (or, a lot less), no kitty carriers, no chasing them down when they get the notice they’re “going for a ride”. It’s pretty easy. Suzy bakes some goodies, we dote on the cats like usual, and the vet shows up, checks ‘em out, and we’re done. There’s a premium to the fees but they’re reasonable and well worth it.

But, seeing your cat held to the table by its scruff while someone draws blood\urine or gives shots is a bit trying. So, when all the trauma was over, I took a little nap with our princes. Win-win is what this one is called!

After that, Suzy and I headed to a new place, Pizza Addict, to check out their offerings. Having a 2-for-1 coupon didn’t hurt but even at full price this would have been worth it. Delicious! They had two crusts … a flash-fried and a Neapolitan; we each tried a different one. The flash-fried was superior and when I asked how they made it, the owner somewhat sheepishly admitted that, yes, it was actually fried. Then tossed into a 900°F oven where most of the surface oil burned off. But … wow. Light, crispy, tender on the inside; the Neapolitan was a typical crust and no slouch, but that flash-fried was good.

We then had a few errands … dropping off some Goodwill items, shopping for sale items (with another coupon … yes!) and then getting home. After tidying up we opted for an early movie … another annual favorite: The Nightmare Before Christmas … and then it was gaming for the rest of the night. Not a bad way to spend a vacation day.

Today we build the goat feeder and then … well, nothing until the Christmas celebration at our home. I don’t know if I could handle a lot of days like yesterday in a row, but it’s nice to have them in there. And, as always, I hope your days are filled with the things you want to do, too.

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Odd jobs

Posted by joeabbott on December 19, 2016

Well, I didn’t get to cleaning my room … guess that’s what Monday is for … but I did manage a bunch of small jobs that were piling up in the garage.

Before

Just a few pics from the mess that was my garage. Some folks may not think it’s out of the norm, but I’d always parked inside the garage when I was able and only after getting a truck and parking outside regularly did I let clutter take the second bay. It was nice to have room for spreading out with a project: a place for lumber to dry, a spot to setup a table and work, or a sheet of plywood on two sawhorses so I could just have more table space.

But, I’ve never enjoyed leaving things out for days. There isn’t an after picture, but here are the befores:

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Relighting a deer

At one time we had well over a dozen lighted deer but time has culled the herd. And, we’re a little sadder for it. So, when one of our deer was just “out” and I wasn’t able to find the problem, we got creative! Suzy spray painted the little fella and I strung it up with a couple sets of lights. We then placed him in a part of the yard that didn’t have a deer and now we have one more place in our backyard that gives us a smile.

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WP_20161218_13_49_23_ProBirdhouse

My mother has always had an uncanny sense for when things aren’t quite right. Well, a couple months back I remember her recalling the birdhouses I’d made and we painted together and then placed in the backyard; she asked if they were still there. Of course, was my quick response. But, as Suzy was doing fall cleaning she noticed one was in a bit of disrepair: it was the birds favorite house (always the home to some family or other). It was the most sheltered and in the branches of the trees and also the one my mother painted … a happy yellow and white striped shelter with rust-colored eaves.

Time, and probably for being in the branches, had not been kind: the wood in various places was soft, cracks developed in places, and the roof completely came off.

So, a few weeks back I built a replica and Suzy lent her hand at painting it up. While we didn’t want to have a carbon copy and infringe on my mother’s design, we took notes and riffed on her look. It’s still a yellow and white house, but the roof is red. I had the pleasure of putting that up yesterday … after moving the pole it was housed on a forward a bit and out of the trees.

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WP_20161218_13_37_51_ProTrellis

While not a “big” project, it was another task that took a bit of time: repairing the trellis.

A few years back Suzy asked if I could make her a trellis; my answer, of course, was of course!

But, sometimes it takes me a bit longer to get around to my “of courses” than other times so I think there was skepticism in her eyes. Either that or the fact that I’d promised doing it a number of times in the past. Either way, I headed to my little shop, ripped a bunch of strips of wood of varying lengths, chamfered end, made a few “stand-off” blocks, and went to installing.

As with virtually every project I do, I winged it a bit, not sure what I was doing and certainly not having much experience but, in the end, we had a nice looking trellis: lots of vertical and horizontal pieces of wood for her growing things to grab onto. But, we find that other things like to grab onto the slats as well … things like raccoons and cats that are making their way over our fence. And so, every few weeks (mostly during the summer), I’ll be called on to fix up the broken and torn-down slats. Yesterday was that day.

A simple few nails it was back to looking like new.

Birds on a wire … er, branch

I wrote about “Stuff in the backyard” before … search this site for “SITBY” … and it should be clear that those instances were just snapshots; we keep adding new stuff all the time. This past year at the Washington State Fair, a booth selling metal cutouts in the shapes of birds caught our eye. While the signs by all the different shapes noted the species of bird, they all looked like “sparrow-type” birds to me.

Suzy, having a cuter eye (as well as a more acute eye), chose a fine selection of birds and a cat … which then sat in my “when you get a chance” pile until now, December.

While the delay might annoy some, Suzy never said a word and when I was able to use one of the branches that came from our property up north, I was happier for the delay. So, with the clear weather, a little time, and Suzy helping me with the positioning of the birds, we added a bit more to the “stuff in the backyard”.

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Squirrel knocker

I can’t imagine those two words ever making sense to me before now, but in her travels, Suzy found a door knocker in the shape of a squirrel. And so, it becomes one more bit of stuff in our backyard. Now, to be clear … “stuff in our backyard” is hardly a pejorative. We adore our backyard and spend plenty of time there. It’s where we go to spend our energy and to get energized in return; it’s a place of living things and stuff we care about. And now … home to a door knocker shaped like a squirrel on our gate.

Love it.

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I like to believe it’s because they were cold, but the ladies were unimpressed. Squirrel, indeed.

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Fixing some lighting

The last project of the day was to fix a bit of up-lighting that we had on some of the SITBY. We enjoyed these lights but they went out and what we thought would be a simple project of replacing a battery turned into a bit more of a fix.

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Upon taking the battery covers off, it became apparent that these weren’t water-tight and, when water got in, it would sit on the electrical components. One of the items was simple to repair: just buff the terminals with a bit of sandpaper and you were good to go. Unfortunately, when removing the terminal plate to clean it off, the connecting wire pulled clear. So, I ran out, got a solder iron and some solder, and reattached the wire.

Like many of my projects, it wasn’t quite that simple. There was the head-scratching, the mild cussing, and then the “how the hell?!?!” moments … but in the end, let’s just say that it was a simple solder job and a good thing my incompetence didn’t require too much more education … the wire I was soldering wasn’t getting any longer!

And then the second lamp. If you look at the below picture, I believed it was the component on the upper left on the board that was so corroded that it just ceased to function. But, when I pulled the wires clear and ran leads directly from the bulb to the battery, it still didn’t light up. While there’s a goodly amount about electrical stuff that I can still learn, there may have been more than one thing wrong here. By the time I was done, there wasn’t anything “Goodwill worthy” left … unfortunately, this one went into the trash.

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Coda

And that was my day. Well, the fixing things up part. I never got around to cleaning my room and my workbench in the garage still demands some tidying, but I felt like it was a productive day. That evening Suzy and I watched our annual viewing of A Christmas Story and I then played a bit of Xbox and finished the game Dark Souls 3. Gads I adore that game.

It was a great day and one that tees up another good one to come … today. I hope your holiday is turning out to be as productive and fun as mine. Thanks for dropping by.

Posted in General stuff, Home projects, Me | 1 Comment »