The Snow Shovel

This past week we had an early Spring snow storm that brought us a few inches of heavy wet snow.  After the storm ended, I went outside to shovel the walkway and driveway, a bit reluctantly since it’s April and I know that all this snow will melt in a few days anyway.  It was just me shoveling, as Mr. C and Ms. J were out taking Scout for a walk.  It was an early Spring day, and the temperature was approaching 50, so I really wasn’t in a rush to finish the shoveling.  It was already starting to melt, so why should I work so hard to clear it off the drive way anyway, I thought.

So I decided to take a break for lunch, and went inside to make a sandwich, leaving my shovel propped up on a snow pile  Between making lunch and eating lunch, I must have taken about a half hour.  Just as I finished my sandwich, the phone rang, which added another fifteen minutes or so to the time inside.  After my break, I thought I would go out and finish clearing off the side walk. However, when I went outside, my shovel was gone!

I looked all over the front yard and there was no sign of the shovel. It wasn’t in the big pile of snow next to the driveway, not in the pile next to the sidewalk, not leaning next to the back of my car in the driveway, not leaning next to the front of my car in the driveway. It was nowhere to be seen.

Then I looked down the street and saw my shovel sticking out of a pile of snow in a neighbor’s driveway.  It’s a very distinctive yellow color, with a yellow handle, and I remember the brand name was ‘Garant, and that the table had started to peel off the handle.  Is that my shovel?   Did my neighbor “borrow” my shovel ?

The house in question is four houses down, across the street, so I walked over to the shovel to check to see if it was mine.  It had the yellow handle, the yellow shovel, and the label was starting to peel off the handle.

‘Hmmm… why would this guy take my shovel?’, I thought.  Very odd.  I knew that this was a new family on the block, so maybe they didn’t have a shovel, or maybe they didn’t know where their shovel was in the pile of boxes they must have from moving in.  So I took the shovel back home and finished shoveling.

After I finished shoveling I put the shovel away, stacking it with the two other shovels I keep in the front entry way.  By this time it was about 3:00pm, Ms. J and C had come back home from walking the dog, and it was still early afternoon, so we were able to do quite a few other things the rest of the day.  I forgot to ask J what she thought of the missing shovel, we were just too busy doing other things and it didn’t occur to me at the time.

The next morning at about 5:00 am, Scout needed to go out.  He doesn’t bark to let us know he needs to go out, he shakes his head until his ears shake around making a distinctive sound.  It’s a fairly quiet sound, so often only one of us wakes up, me or Ms. J.   Since it was still early, J and C were still asleep, and since I was barely awake myself, I decided to just let him out into the back yard.  The back yard is fenced, so we can just let him run around out there if he needs to.  This has been a great advantage on freezing cold Winter nights. We can just open the back door, let Scout out, and wait inside where it’s warm.  So I put on my bathrobe and slippers, went down stairs to let him out.

I open the back door, Scout runs out, and just as I turn to go back inside, in the early morning light I see a snow shovel with a yellow handle next to the back door.  My shovel.  At the back door.  I didn’t leave it in the front yard when I went inside for lunch yesterday, I went in the back door and left the shovel at the back door.

Now I had stolen my new neighbor’s shovel and it was on my front porch.  What to do?    I don’t even know who these people are yet, they just moved in.   Should I wait until the morning and introduce myself as their neighbor down the street who stole their shovel ? So at about 5:15 am, I took the shovel walked down the street and put it back in the snow pile at the end of their driveway.  I did change from the bathrobe and slippers to a shirt and pants before doing that though.

 

 

 

 

Daddy’s Crazy Music

I still have some old vinyl records, and among the vintage new wave hits of the 80’s in my collection, there are a number of works that I suppose could be called ‘experimental’. Mr. C just calls them ‘Daddy’s Crazy Music’.  Examples include works by This Heat, Steve Reich, Brian Eno, Dead C, Bailter Space, Godspeed You Black Emperor, and Gilbert & Lewis.  Some of this is ambient and some might just be called noise. As a Classical music fan, Ms. J does not prefer to hear any of this either. 

Here’s an example from Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis.  ‘Barge Calm’ from their 1980 LP, ‘3R4’.  

If you do go ahead and listen to it, you can stop after a minute or so, it just continues like this….for another 17 minutes. 

Here’s the LP.  (I can’t believe it’s been 37 years since I bought this!)

Since I work from home, and I know this sort of music is not for everyone, if I do want to listen to any of it I will dig out one of these old LP’s during the day. When C is at school and J at work. 

This has worked fine until we got our dog Scout.  Something like ‘Barge Calm’ will make him howl. Hoooowwwwwwllllll ….owwwwwww!  Owwww….Howwwwwwlllll!  This continues until I take the music off. 


Not an avant-garde music fan. 

Looks like I will have to resort to listening to this in the car.  Yes, I do own two copies of this, the other one being a compact disc. 

Fixing the mixer

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that a project I’ve been meaning to get to is fixing my Mom’s old Kitchenaid mixer.

My Mother was going to throw it away because it was making a grinding sound and shaking when she used it.  I’d like to try to keep it out of the dump so I said that I would try to fix it.  It’s a forty year old machine, it probably weighs about twenty five pounds, and I doubt that newer models are as sturdy as this one. New models can cost about $500, so it could be worthwhile to try to fix it.

After doing some research, I found out that a common problem is that the gear lubricant can dry out, causing the gears to grind, eventually the motor will wear out if the old lubricant is not replaced. I bought some new lubricant, hoping that it wasn’t too late to save it.

The first thing to do is to knock out the pin that holds in the rotary. The little top pin, not the one on the stem below the spring. I almost knocked out that bottom pin, which would have been a big mistake as it’s very difficult to get back in.


Then you take off the rotary.


Then you remove all of those screws. I had to get some screw de-locker oil as those things didn’t want to budge after forty years. 


That brown gunk is dried out gear lubricant. 


I didn’t get a photo of the cleaned off gears as my hands were covered in that old gear goo.  The new lubricant cost $15.  The old screw de-lockenizer oil cost $2.50.


Then you put it all back together and check to see if that fixed it by mixing up a batch of chocolate chip cookies!


Whirrr!   Whirrrrr!   Good as new! 

Let’s bake some cookies!

Off the leash

One of the things I didn’t really think about when we got Scout was that we would have to take him out for some exercise every day. Every day.  Even in the middle of February.

Luckily, we’ve been having a fairly mild winter so far here in New Hampshire, but there have been days that I would never think of going outside much less going on a hike. We found out about a park in the nearby town of Amherst that encourages owners to let their dogs off the leash.  So off we went on a hike, in February, a few days after we had received about a foot of snow.

Turns out that Scout loves to run in the snow.

While he is getting bigger, he is often confronted with new experiences, like footbridges over mountain streams. He refused to cross this bridge at first, preferring to try to wade through the stream.  It took a few minutes of persuading him that it is actually not a good idea to try swimming through icy water in February, and wouldn’t he prefer to be up here with us on the dry bridge ?

He did finally pick up on the idea that footbridges are a good idea. However, he was then confronted with this bridge that had a stairway since the far side of the stream had a higher elevation.  I had to carry him up the stairs. He did manage to go down the stairs on his own though, so he’s learning fast. Which is good since he weighs close to forty pounds now.

Here’s an old stone wall in the forest. You see these all over the New England area. Scout jumped over the wall, landing in a huge pile of snow. I had to go over the wall to pick him up and carry him back over the wall.

This dog is determined to get me to loose weight, wether he forces me to get out of the house, or carry him up scary wooden staircase, or wade through a foot of snow.  At least it was a sunny day.

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The Year of Organization

One of the many resolutions for 2017 is that it is going to be the year of organization. As an example of my lack of organization skills, here is a photo of my basement workbench. I have not made any progress on my goal so far.

You can see the remains of a number of different projects piled up in a mound on the far end of the workbench. I have a habit of finishing a project, and then leaving the tools where they are on the workbench, and then piling them up when I start the next task. I do at least finish the projects, its the cleaning up part that I don’t care for.  You’ll also see a large vintage Kitchenaid Mixer in the back of the pile.  That’s another project that I should work on this year.   My mother had that mixer for close to forty years when it started to make a grinding noise, so she bought a new mixer. I suggested that I might be able to fix the mixer, rather than having it end up in the dump.  That was more than a year ago. And this is just the workbench, my desk is in the same condition as the workbench.

It’s not as though I have not been able to accomplish resolutions in the past. Last year’s big resolution was to try to cook one new recipe a week. We somehow managed to come up with 58 new recipes during the year.  I was supposed to write blog posts about the best new recipes, but I never got around to that either.  Another goal is to post on the blog more often, or at least go from a “seldom” frequency to “infrequent”.  A food related goal is much easier than this organizing goal, since I love food and I don’t much care for organizing anything. (On yet another tangent, somewhat related to the new recipe project is that this year I’m supposed to try to loose some weight too.)

In the quest to fulfill this organization goal, maybe by publicly admitting that I have a problem will force me to actually accomplish this goal.  So, sometime during the year I will get this workbench organized, and the desk too, and get that mixer fixed.  Maybe I’ll work on getting the file cabinet organized too.

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

During our visit to New Mexico earlier this month, we visited Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument.  The western U.S. seems to have hundreds of places like this; state parks, town parks, monuments, wilderness areas, Bureau of Land Management sites.  These small parks don’t get much attention since the more well known parks like the Grand Canyon can be so overwhelmingly beautiful, but they’re still very worthwhile for a visit.

Kasha-Katuwe is known for its tent shaped rock formations, eroded lava cones, and ancient Native American cave dwellings.  Layers of hard rock alternate with softer rock, so as the softer rock erodes large chunks of hard rock are left on top of pyramid shaped towers. Cones of older eroded lava are also seen at the base of the mesa below.  


Here’s a close up of our the photo above, showing some of the towers with rocks balanced on top. 


A boulder balanced on a narrow column of rock.


There are some caves in this slot canyon that were used as dwellings long ago. 


Here’s a close up of one of the cave dwellings.


 Here’s what the people who lived in the cave would see in the evening.  It’s a sheltered ‘U’ shaped mesa, so I’m guessing the area was a good choice since it would be easy to see anyone approaching from the one opening. Mr. C loved imaging what it was like to live here, coming up with all sorts of stories about what it could have been like.


The sun seems to set quickly out West, it was soon too dark for photography.

Scout’s Journey Home – Part 2

 

Here is the long awaited conclusion of our trip back from New Mexico with our new dog,  the added bonus for this post is that it comes with blurry photos taken from a moving car!

On our first day, we travelled from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Joplin, Missouri, a total of 780 miles.  A bit short of the lower end of our goal of driving 800 to 1,000 miles on the first day, so we’ll have to try to drive further on our second day.

We left our hotel in Joplin as early as we possibly could. It was probably about 6:30 am, and it was still dark out.  We had the added incentive that it was not a very clean hotel room, and the staff were all very surly.  A name brand hotel does not guarantee you will have a pleasant stay, apparently.  It had started to rain when we left and I was hoping to get in as many miles as possible before the rain turned into snow.

After a couple of stops to let Scout run around for awhile, we stopped in St. Louis for lunch at the Blue City Deli. Yesterday’s stop at ‘The Big Texan’ was the highlight of the trip for Mr. C, today’s stop at the Blue City Deli was the highlight of the trip for me.  If we’re ever in St. Louis , we’ll have to stop here again.  Sorry I don’t have pictures of our food, just an interior shot of the restaurant.  Friendly staff, fresh ingredients and some of the best sandwiches I’ve had.  We try to find local places when we’re traveling and this was a great find.  The iPhone helped us out more than once with directions and advice on where to eat. Later in the day, I also found out that you can ask Google to find you a ‘coffee shop near Route 465 in Indiana’ and will receive several results.

 

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We had told Mr. C that something we would see along the way was the Gateway Arch in St.Louis.  So he was excited to finally arrive in St.Louis to see it.  If there was time, we were going to take a tour of the Arch too.  Once we arrived though it really started to rain and the fog moved in, we also found out that the Arch was closed for renovation work.

It was non-stop rain from the time we left the Deli until we arrived home. Here’s the Mississippi River, and the Arch can be seen on the other side of that bridge.  Mr. C was not too thrilled with our view of the Arch.

The rain and fog continued all day.  We drove through Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio on the second day, and unfortunately didn’t see much beyond the rain and fog.

This could be Illinois, or maybe Indiana.

Terre Haute, Indianapolis, Springfield, Columbus.  We drove through so many towns and cities on the second day, but saw nothing but fog.

Endless driving from 6:30 am to 11:30pm, exhausted, we arrived in Akron Ohio. A total of 825 miles.  Scout was great in the car, sleeping for most of the trip, but once we arrived at our hotel in Akron, he was filled with energy from sleeping all day.  I had to toss a ball for him from one side of the hotel room to the other for about two hours before he was tired out and could get to sleep.  While Mr. C was sleeping, the dog was running in circles around the room.  It was about 2:00 am before I was able to get to sleep myself.

Day three started early again, 6:30am, and the rain was falling even harder than yesterday. We had to travel through the northern part of Pennsylvania and then through New York today and I was hoping to not get caught in a snow storm.

Northern Pennsylvania looks like it would be a beautiful area, rolling green hills and small historic towns, but unfortunately we didn’t see any of it.  On the third day, we drove from Akron, Ohio through Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, and then into New Hampshire, a total of 655 miles.

We were very lucky that the temperature didn’t drop any further, and the rain did not turn to snow on that third day in the car.  The one and only time we hit any traffic on the entire 2,345 mile trip was in Massachusetts, on the Mass Turnpike.  The rain was coming down so hard I could barely see beyond the windshield, and the traffic was moving at a crawl.  Luckily I know a lot of back roads through the state so we got off the Pike and finally ended up home at about 11:30pm.  Once again, Scout was completely wound up from being stuck in the car so we had to throw a ball from one side of our kitchen to the other for two hours until he was tired out again.

For years I had wanted to drive across the country, it was unfortunate that the weather was not better than it was though. I went through a lot of states that I had never visited before; Oklahoma, Indiana, Missouri.  I had been to parts of Texas, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, but not the areas we drove through. I feel like we missed a lot having to drive at night for long portions of the trip, but at least it wasn’t snowing and now we have some places to visit if we’re ever in theses areas again.

Welcome to sunny New Hampshire, Scout!

New Hampshire?   You took me to New Hampshire?