Tuesday, December 1, 2009

On the way home today I stopped at the hardware store and bought two dozen packs of four 100-watt bulbs. I expect 96 bulbs will last several years. Maybe by the time those are used up we'll be past those dim compact fluorescents and using LED's instead. I don't particularly like the idea of using mercury-containing CFC's.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Last night I watched last Friday's video of bringing in firewood and getting ready for cold weather. Miss Kitty sat here beside me gazing intently at the screen with rapt attention for the enitre ten minutes. I guess I should shoot some bird videos for her entertainment. Its a good thing I've been fetching wood. Colder weather is on the way, with a low in the teens expected friday morning. Today's high was about 41º, and at dinner time the temperature in the kitchen was 48º, so I indulged in the luxury of lighting a fire in the kitchen stove. The old thing does a good job of heating. It will raise the room temperature from the forties to the seventies in a few minutes.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

BRRRrrrrr! 28º isn't all that cold, but this afternoon when I was taking a battery cable off a tractor to work on it, the north wind made it feel a lot colder. By the time I finally got the bolt out I'd lost most of the feeling in my fingers. After that I was ready for a little heat, so I made a fire in the kitchen. I watched the time, and found that the stove heated the room from 42º to 66º in twenty minutes.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Since leaving the Suburban at the transmission shop on Monday I haven't heard a thing about it, so this afternoon about 1:30 I stopped by to ask about it. The place was locked up, with nobody there. Fortunately, the car is parked outside. I plan on taking in at least one auction this weekend, so if I buy something bulky I need to haul home I'll be able to get the Chevy to do it.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

It was a full day. After doing laundry I drove over to Harper for the auction. As usual, there were some desirable items that went for more than I was willing to pay, and most of the time was spent wading through all the stuff that was of no interest to me. The final results were a couple of pieces of bunting for $10, a Kellogg wall phone in excellent condition for $160, and four pressed back oak chairs at $20 each. I was able to haul it all home in the Camry except two of the chairs, so I'll have to go back for them. This evening I went to the company Christmas party, which is always a swell feed and pretty much a musical downer. I am not a rock fan, so all I heard that was any good for me was a couple of country songs and a blues number.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

It's going to be a long winter. Not because of the cold. I don't know how cold it will be. But I think I'm going to have to keep rearranging tarps on the roof. Last night I lay in bed and listened to thumping and bumping overhead. So today I had to go up and replace the tarp that had blown out of place, and lay the boards back on it to keep it where it belongs. That will work until the wind gets too strong again. With that little chore out of the way I headed for another auction. This was in Oxford, at one of the most active auction outfits in the area. Ken and Rick don't waste any time, and they get through huge amounts of stuff, but there was such a mountain of goods today that it took forever to get to the items I wanted. I did get them: a third piece of bunting, just like the two I bought yesterday at Harper, also for $5, and a reproduction of a Currier & Ives lithograph of "The Arkansaw Traveler" for $4. It was almost five by the time I got out of there, so it was time to come home and light a fire.


Monday, December 7, 2009

I left from work and drove over to Anthony to bring home the last two of the chairs I bought Saturday. I didn't get back until after sundown, and I was disinclined to spend the time to bring in wood and start a fire, and then get dinner, so I broke with custom and ate in town. I dropped in at the local Wally-World to buy some ink for my printer and found something strange. You can buy the color and black cartidges separately, or you can buy them together in one package. Buying them together costs half a dollar more than buying them separately. Does that make any sense? I don't think so.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

When I got home from work this afternoon it was 35º in the house, so I didn't wait until meal time to light a fire. I took the ashes out of the kitchen stove and got a fire going, and laid a fire in the living room for after dinner. I'll sit by the fireplace, have a glass of port (a paper cup, actually), and burn trash. The rest of the year I save corrugated boxes and scraps to burn during winter. They don't burn very long, but they put out a lot of heat. With my fire chores done, I brought in a rose of sharon. It's one of those plants I bought over a month ago. I got the other three planted, but didn't get around to this one. With temperatures down to 10º in the forecast for tomorrow and Thursday morning, I'll keep it in the cellar so the roots won't freeze.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Didn't get much done today. By the time I made a couple of shopping stops, split and brought in wood, and got a fire going, the afternoon was pretty well spent.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Well, good for me! For the second time this week, I did my 100 pushups today. No, not all at once. I do only twenty at a time, and by the time I get to number twenty I'm really sagging and straining. But the hardest part isn't doing the exercise. It's remembering to stop what I'm doing five times during the day so I can get all 100 done. I hope that if I keep at it, twenty at a time will eventually become easy, and I can start doing 25 and eventually more. When I got home from work this afternoon the first thing I did was go upstairs and put a couple more blankets on my bed. When I turned in last night it was 27º in my bedroom, and the electric blanket was barely adequate. Adding the two army blankets should help. Zeke and Miss Kitty appreciate that electric blanket. They usually come upstairs and spend the night on my bed.


Friday, December 11, 2009

This was the day to get some outside work done. Chore one was to walk to town and get the Suburban, which was at the transmission shop to have a leak cured. When I tried to start the car I found that the battery was down again, so I had to get a jump. I had to put a charger on it when I took the car to town last week, so it's not holding a charge. It seems I need to trade the battery for a new one after only two years. The second chore was putting away lumber I bought at an auction last month. I spent most of the afternoon taking a hundred two-by-four studs out of the truck and stacking them on the porch behind the shop. Some of the boards were stuck together. At first I thought they were stuck by rosin, then I realized it was ice. I also installed a new battery in the WD, intending to use the loader to move a line shaft that has a couple of heavy wheels on it. The tractor's starter spun the engine, but it wouldn't fire. I didn't want to take the time to do the troubleshooting today, so moving that shaft will wait for another day.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

This morning Zeke and I took a little drive. I've been contemplating the possibility of shooting some cover photos for the Vintage Ford Model T magazine, so I've been scouting some of the local stone arch bridges as possible locations. Today we went to the Floral bridge north of Winfield. It has a couple of curbstones missing, but looks pretty good. This is the third bridge I've visited, and it's a strong candidate to be used in at least one picture. After seeing the bridge, I went to another auction and came away with a few bargains. This time I bought some nails, nine big combination wrenches, a kerosene lamp and lantern, a creeper, a vise, and a pair of jack stands. The total expense was $44.97. The wrenches alone would have cost more than that in a store, so I came out OK on this deal. I figured out that the reason I couldn't get the tractor started yesterday was that a wire to the ignition switch wasn't connected, so I went to the hardware store and bought some terminals. I'll solder on a terminal and hook up that wire tomorrow and see what happens. Sunday morning is my time to stay in and catch a couple of the blather shows on TV and do some web surfing, so I spent the end of the afternoon splitting wood and laying a fire for tomorrow morning in the fireplace. I finshed the day with a tasty feast at La Fiesta, then went to see Clint Eastwood's Invictus. Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon are both excellent, as usual, and the movie is another high quality Eastwood production. I wouldn't be surprised to see at least one Oscar nomination out of this one.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Everything takes longer than you think it will. That old adage was in full effect today. I spent over an hour just soldering a terminal on a wire, hooking it up, and getting the tractor started. Once I had the old beast operational I used it to unload the truck so I could do some hauling. Recently at an auction I picked up an antique line shaft, and today's job was to unload it and put it away. Here's the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KxjKH6Hk4o. With the line shaft out of the way, I got out the chain saw and cut off a stump that was in my way in the back yard. The last job of the afternoon was to gather up several piles of pulled weeds and other yard trash and haul it all to the dump pile. Then I exercised. My time for three miles was 31:24. The last time I recorded a time it was 30:50 on November 10. I guess 34 seconds slower isn't too bad after a month's layoff. I haven't jogged for a while because of being busy with other things, or sometimes because of being too much of a cold weather sissy.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Back into the freezer! Today's high was about 27º, with enough north wind to make you notice, and a forecast for a morning low in the mid-teens. All I did this afternoon was split wood and bring some in for tonight's heat.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

All I had time to do after work was bring in wood for the evening before going to the doc for my annual check-up.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Zeke likes to get inside and warm up by the fire and so do I, so I spent part of the afternoon cutting and splitting firewood, and bringing in some wood out in the yard that's been lying there since I cut it up last summer. It seems there's plenty of outside work all year. In the winter it's firewood, and in the summer it's mowing and weeding.


Thursday, December 17, 2009

This was shopping day. By the time I finished buying groceries and other supplies, there was just enough time left to split and bring in wood for the evening fires. I laid a fire in the kitchen stove, but I didn't bother to light it. It was almost 50º in the kitchen, so I just warmed up with hot soup then lit the living room fire after dinner.


Friday, December 18, 2009

I spent the afternoon writing Christmas cards. I managed to finish most of the ones that go to distant states and get them into the post office just before five, when the mail leaves town. Tomorrow I'll do the ones that go to closer destinations. Maybe next year I can start earlier and not have to crank them out all at the last minute.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

After doing laundry I finished up the little chore of writing Christmas cards, mailed them, and went to work on wood. I sawed a couple of pieces off a big mulberry log, then spent about a half hour splitting one of them. That log has been lying in the back yard for a couple of years, so I assumed it would be dry enough to burn well. Splitting the wood though, it looked kind of moist. I'll try some of it in the morning and see how well it burns. This evening, after reading some of the many rave reviews online, I went to see Avatar. I don't know if I buy "the best movie of the last thirty years", but it really was very impressive. Not only is the 3D CGI with motion capture animation very convincing, but the performances by the live actors are good, and director James Cameron keeps things moving so there's never a dull moment. I still feel cheated when I go to a theater and pay to see commercials and no cartoon, but in this case at least the feature was worth the price of admission.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

It was a beautiful day, with temperatures near fifty, so I grabbed the chain saw and went for wood. I started cutting up dead trees to clear a road to where there are more dead trees. By the time I hauled a load up to the house, split some of the bigger pieces, and piled it all in the garage, it was near three in the afternoon. The next chore was getting the roof ready for weather. Strong wind recently blew some tarps out of place and tore off a piece of tar paper that was temporarily tacked in place, so I rearranged the tarps to keep the next rain out. It will work for rain or snow, but if there's strong wind I may be in trouble. By the time I finished that it was after four, and I went for a run. It took me 31:41 to do the three miles. That's a little slower than last time. I guess I need to get back to running more often.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter started with another nice day. I went up on the roof and worked on tarps again, trying to prepare them to stay in place when the wind blows. I laid on a lot of boards to keep them down. Then I took care of a chore that's been waiting for a long time. I took a ladder out to the barn and replaced half a dozen burned out bulbs. That left just enough time to bring in wood for the evening.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Hope springs infernal. At 5:11 this afternoon the phone in the living room rang. The caller ID said it was "800 SERVICE". As usual, I let the answering machine tell them "If you telemarketing clowns had half a brain..." etc. Also as usual, they hung up when they heard they hadn't reached a live victim. At 5:12 the phone rang again, and "UNKNOWN CALLER" went down swinging. They always lose, but they keep trying.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

After bringing in wood for the evening I cleaned out one of the kitchen cabinets, putting in new shelf paper, rearranging the canned goods, and stowing away new groceries.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Winter blew in for real today. By afternoon the temperatrure had plunged to 16º and a strong north wind was blowing snow into drifts. Here's a two-minute video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nE75M3YrZPk Most days recently the indoor temperatures have been about 50º and I haven't bothered with a fire until after dinner. Today was a different story. The living room temperature was 39º and I started a fire about 3:00. Zeke stayed in the car when we got home from town, and every time I opened the door and invited him to come in the house he stayed curled up in the back seat. I invited him several times, and he was finally willing to brave the cold long enough to come inside about 5:30. I was worried about the stiff breeze, but so far my tarps on the roof seem to be staying in place.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Ho ho ho, merry blizzard! Well, it wasn't all that big, but I did have to use the snow shovel to get out to the road. I heard on TV that we had about six inches, but the strong north wind blew some areas bare and piled up drifts in other places. Oklahoma got the biggest part of it. They had heavy snow, interstates closed, and a big chain reaction pile-up on I-40. Apparently I'm still dodging the bullet in the tarp situation. They don't seem to have been blown out of place yet. I went to my cousin Pete's house in town after shoveling my way to the road, and found that her son Shane and his bunch who were supposed to be there were snowed in west of town. We drove out there and found the highway usable, but the country road down to his place is closed by big drifts. So we went back to her place, had some tea, and she gave me a pile of Christmas dinner to bring home. Later Pete called to let me know that the snow plow had been down the road by Shane's place and got his truck unstuck from where he and his wife had left it. But they plan to stay home as long as the wind's blowing. They don't want to leave and then not be ble to get home because of new drifts. The bright side of all this is that this far south, when you get some Canadian weather it's gone in a few days.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

This was stocking up day. It's my custom to go shopping the day after Christmas and buy Christmas candy at half price. I buy enough to last several months and put it in the freezer. I do the same on February 15 and the day after Easter. It's been years since I've bought any candy at full price. It was too chilly for any outside work today, so Zeke and I got in the car and went for a drive in the country. We went over to Sedan and back home. I noticed that a lot of the buildings in Sedan that are 100 years and older have been nicely restored and painted. In some towns they cover up the old store fronts with ugly modern stuff, and think they're really uptown sophisticates, and it just looks tacky. It's nice to see a town where they respect their history and take care of the place.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

I took another bridge scouting drive today. I went looking for the Elrod Bridge north of Winfield. I got close to the bridge, probably within a quarter mile, but the road to it was closed by snow drifts on both sides. I'll wait for better weather before I try that one again. When I got home I exercised a little. I'm not going to run on icy roads, so I did something that doesn't require going anywhere. Here's the two-minute video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nh0KVK9Q2p4.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Didn't get much done this afternoon except upload a video. Starting yesterday I tried about twenty times before it worked. By the time that was done all I had time to do was bring in wood for the evening.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Another day to not dawdle making some heat. Room temperature in the kitchen was 36º when I got home. Just 82 days until spring.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ditto. Today it was 38º in the house, and the activity of the afternoon was taking out ashes and bringing in wood. I'm hoping for good enough weather on the weekend for cutting up some of the downed branches in the yard.


Thursday, December 31, 2009

Zeke stayed home today. A lot of mornings, especially when it's cold, he goes to work with me and lies beside the big walk-in oven in the sign factory. But he wasn't around when I left this morning, so he got to stay outside all day. When I got home he and a bunch of the pups from across the road were lying out by the road on the south-facing bank in the sun, staying as warm as they could on a freezing day. He didn't waste any time getting in the house as soon as I opened the door. The year ends with me waiting for the snow to melt so I can start digging to install a new gas line out to the shop so I can have some heat in there. The forecast shows highs in the thirties for at least the next week, so the snow is going to stay awhile.