Thursday, June 1, 2006
This afternoon I got the new gear for the mower and installed it. That leaves one more little chore on the machine, reconnecting the brake linkage. So far it looks like a three-hand job. I'll see if I can figure out a way to do it without having to call in help. Happily, June has brought more normal weather. The idea of having last weekend's family reunion in May was to avoid summer heat, but July arrived early in the form of temperatures over 90º. The past couple of days have been nicer, with highs around 80º.
Friday, June 2, 2006
This afternoon I was in the living room when I heard a noise out back that sounded like something sliding down a metal roof. When I went out and looked, I found that a big mulberry limb, 15" thick, had fallen and hit the carport where the '73 Suburban resides. Fortunately the carport is far enough from the tree that it was hit by just the small branches. It doesn't look like any damage was done. When this branch is cut up, it will make a nice contribution to next winter's firewood.
Saturday, June 3, 2006
This week's music comes from the hippest singer on the planet. This disc contains two sessions: August, 1956, and October, 1958. Ernie Andrews has always worked with top musicians, both in clubs and in the recording studio, and they are here. Guys like Eric Dolphy, Gerald Wiggins, Buddy Collette, Barney Kessel, Sweets Edison, and others make for very classy and tasteful renditions of some great compositions. Among songs getting the very soulful Andrews treatment are Travelin' Light, I'm Gonna Move to the Outskirts of Town, Bernie's Tune, The Masquerade Is Over, Lover Come Back to Me, and Thelonius Monk's classic jazz standard, Round Midnight. This is a great singer who has never received the popularity he deserves. Ernie will be seventy-nine next Christmas. The last time I saw him in a club, about twenty years ago, he was in top form, and the same is true of recordings I've heard from the nineties. According to his website, he's still performing in clubs. If you have a chance to catch Ernie Andrews performing at a club, do yourself a favor and go.
Sunday, June 4, 2006
After spending part of the day cutting up some of the big branch that fell down Friday afternoon, I went to do some old time farming. Members of the Kansas & Oklahoma Steam & Gas Engine Association gathered to bind wheat that will be used in threshing demonstrations at the tractor show in August. This operation is done with a binder, which looks a lot like the old McCormick reaper of the nineteenth century, but has binding equipment that ties the cut wheat in bundles which it leaves lying on the ground. A crew with pitchforks follows the binder to toss the bundles onto a wagon. Later the bundles are pitched into a threshing machine which separates the grain from the straw and the chaff.
Friday, June 9, 2006
Not much blogging lately, due to getting busy elsewhere. Almost three years ago, since everyone around here but me was dead, it occured to me that perhaps I could put an empty room or two to good use and help somebody out by doing some foster care. So I signed up and took the training course at the local foster care agency. I filled out the state application and all the other forms, and everything seemed to be going fine. Then came the state inspector's visit. She absolutely despised my old house. She gave me a form listing the things she saw that needed to be corrected, and after she left I started fixing up the deficiencies. A week later the same inspector showed up unannounced with a colleague, as a witness I suppose, and a camera. She told me she was so overwhelmed by all she saw on her first visit that she needed to come back and see what she missed. So the two inspectors went all over the place and made up a new list, and took pictures of what they considered the low points. Well, I spent a few weeks working on the new list, and when I thought I had all the listed items corrected I notified the inspectors' office. This time the second woman and a man showed up, and they came up with some new things I needed to do. At this point it was obvious that for the old house to pass muster it would need some major work. So over the past couple of years I've been working on the house. The projects included: a new entryway ceiling; a new front porch roof and new front windows upstairs; a new roof over the west porch, bathroom, and garage; and a bathroom replacement. When I say new roof, I don't mean just new roofing. I'm talking about replacing a lot of sheeting, and even rafters. And when I say bathroom replacement, I mean gutting the thing down to studs and rafters and starting from scratch. The only things I kept were one light fixture, the shower head, the windows, and the toilet. Now that those projects are finished, I'm getting ready to give the inspectors another crack at the place, and have been working on the required forms this week. If they don't OK the old place after all the improvements, I doubt that it will ever pass.
Saturday, June 10, 2006
The title "Anthology of a King" fits here, because Ramon Ayala is the king of Mexican accordion music. Sort of a Mexican Myron Floren. This two-CD set was quite a bargain at the local Wal-Mart. No big orchestra here. It's just Ramon playing accordion and singing, with bass, drums, and one backup singer harmonizing. The thirty tracks range from waltzes like Aferrado por Ti to bouncy numbers like Para Poder Llegar a Ti to the sentimental Señor Dios. Also included is the recent hit, Del Otro Lado del Porton.
I knew Saturday would be hot, so I used the morning cool to get some firewood cutting done. When the temperature got over 90º, I went into the shop and spent most of the day unbuilding an oven. When I sold the sign business I was left with the home-built drying ovens because the new owner had plenty of space for a big conveyor oven. These things take up a lot of room; they're six feet long, three feet deep, and about six feet high. Since I want to use the room for a shop to work on the mower and other equipment, the two ovens taking up about half the space need to go. Fortunately, unbuilding went a lot faster than building. Today on one oven I removed the burner and controls, the door with its pulleys and weights, the lights, and all the sheet metal. If I can do all that to the other one tomorrow, that will leave just cutting up the two frames.
Last July I told a young cousin he could help me restore a tractor when I got to it. After that I spent the summer, fall, winter, and most of spring working on the house. Now I want to get this shop set up so we can get started on that tractor. I've been watching for farm auctions in hope of finding a good deal on a compressor. If that doesn't pan out, I guess I'll have to buy a new one. I worked without air tools for years, and I could do it again, but I'd rather have them. Sometimes they're a real convenience.
Sunday, June 11, 2006
Another cool morning session trimming twigs and small branches off large limbs that were cut down last week. It must have been a bit humid. Even at a cool 70º, it was sweaty work. I spent most of the day dismantling another oven. Again I removed the burner and controls, the door with its pulleys and weights, the lights, and all the sheet metal. Now both ovens are stripped down to the frames and ready for the cutting torch.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Today I got the slides from the last roll of film I shot. Along with family reunion pictures, there were some shots of tree trimming and hauling away branches.
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Vet, Connie, and Martha Boswell were one of the first and one of the best singing groups of the swing era. This Jass CD contains some of the best popular songs of the era in the distinctive Boswell style. Backed by such top bands as Victor Young, the Dorseys, Don Redman, Casa Loma, Red Nichols, and Jimmy Grier, the Boswells perform the daylights out of some great songs, including Dinah, Way Down Yonder in New Orleans, Dear Old Southland, High Society, Rampart Street Blues, River Stay 'Way From My Door, Lullaby of Broadway, and the immortal Stardust. Along with the familiar songs, there are less known ones such as Was That the Human Thing To Do? (two different takes ), My Romance, and the outrageous, laugh-out-loud She Was Just a Tartar's Daughter. Joining in the fun are Bing Crosby, Frank Munn, Carmen Lombardo, and the Mills Brothers. With this collection of great performances by some of the early swing era's most popular musical stars, Old Man Depression won't get you down.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Long time no blog. I've neglected this little activity in favor of some other things. One job was getting the 1968 VW beetle out of the garage and into town. With the current cost of fuel I decided it was time to get the old chariot roadworthy again, after letting it sit for the past eight years. Not having the auto shop setup I'd want to work on it myself, I'm letting an actual mechanic check out the rear end clunk that kept me from using the car. With the VW out of the garage, for the last couple of days I've been working on a long-delayed garage cleanout.
This week's music takes us back to the Middle Ages. The theme here is a pilgrimage to the Holy land through medieval music. Selections are choral and instrumental performances of music from England, France, Germany, Croatia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Turkey, and Syria, from the late Middle Ages (fourteenth and fifteenth centuries). The styles are various, and all sound exotic to modern ears. Some pieces sound eerily strange, and others merely strange. This is fascinating stuff.
I started the day with a drive to Wichita to pick up a door window for the VW. This was because the last time I left the car parked in town, some idiot vandal smashed the driver's side window. I could buy a new window installed locally for $180, but I'd rather buy a window for $45 and install it myself. Next I went to an auction to see if I could find any bargains. The few items that looked interesting, it turned out, weren't for sale. So I gave up on the auction, and spent the rest of the day cleaning out the garage. Another session tomorrow should finish the job.
Sunday, June 25, 2006
After a little weed pulling, I finished the great garage cleanout. I found a nice surprise when I took the scrap lumber out to the old chicken house. There I found a window just the right size to fit where I need one in the west porch. So after the garage cleanout was done, I went grocery shopping, and then to the hardware store for some quarter round molding to hold the window in place. I spent the rest of the day getting the window partly installed.
Monday, June 26, 2006
This afternoon I finished installing the window, washed it, and did some cleaning in the west porch. The window, with sunlight shining in, makes a nice replacement for corrugated cardboard covering the hole.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
Since the weather forecast was for today to be the last under 90º for the next week or so, I decided to mow before the heat returns. The Allis Model B with Woods L-59 mower is still a swell way to mow.