Friday, November 23, 2007

The After-Bloat

So, here I am, sitting in a motel room overlooking the world's largest (in surface area) body of fresh water. There are occasional snowflakes drifting down. The overall color scheme is gray. My two children are still sleeping and I am getting hungry. The remains of these (see above) are out in the back of my car and are no doubt frozen solid and could be used for hockey pucks. The bloat was good with lots of people, food, football, and resulting narcolepsy. An impromptu poker game was the only thing that left me feeling lighter yesterday.

Today however, is an open book. Not being one to line up to smoke my credit card in the post turkey day commercial bloat that seems to have made itself a national spectical and unfortunate display of needless consumer gluttoney, I ponder my possibilities. First on my list is breakfast, but there I face a moral decision. Do I wake my babes and attempt to talk them into rising, dressing, going out in the cold for a good breakfast in a steamy basement coffee shop a three minute walk from here? Or do I let them sleep and eventually graze the zero quality buffet provided as part of our motel benefits package?

My next major concern is to replace the drugstore reading glasses, that until last night hung on a string around my neck. It seems that an enthusiastic good night hug from a healthily endowed friend was too much for their slender constitution and the right and left lens parted company shortly after we did. Without such visual aides, I am reduced to a magoo kind of existence where I wander around with a perpetual squint, unable to read anything smaller than a stop sign. I think there is a spare pair out in the car, but that means I have to bundle up and go out in the cold.

Then, there is the repair needed on the auto's windshield washer system. One of the collateral damage casualties of my repair frenzy last week was a once flexible tube that ran from my washing fluid reservoir to the little nozzles on the hood whence the blue juice was squirted onto my windshield. The importance of such a system cannot be overemphasized in a northern, winter seasoned clime such as this. To those of you living south of the mason-dixon line (where ever that may be), in the winter when snow falls on the roads up here, the response is to send out massive trucks full of salt and sand which gets sprayed down all over the place whether it is needed or not. Consequently, any car driving upon such a surface, leaves behind it a large rooster-tail of wet, sloppy grit which immediately coats any vehicle behind it, instantly obscuring the drivers vision. This is done for safety reasons.

Therefore, driving a vehicle without a functioning windshield washing system is kind of like playing Russian-roulette. So, I must attempt to fix mine.

There are more fun things to do, but since we will be here for a couple of days, I will save some for later.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Together Again

This is just to show that I did put it all back together again. It starts and it runs. No bolts or nuts (stiffle it) left over. No strange noises (that I can hear with the volume turned up). Tomorrow we give it the big test by taking off for the old home place up north, 150 miles up north.

Needless to say, we are not quite ready. We're working on that. Number Two and I are baking and Number One is working. Let me see if I can get this dang software thing to put two photos in one post at the same time. Hang on.

Did it work? We'll see. Looks like the photos got switched. Car should be on top, pies on bottom. Oh well.

So, as I said, tomorrow, we head north for a few days of gluttony and familial togetherness. My youngest brother has flown in from the east coast with his love and I look forward to seeing them. Only about half of my sibs will be in town for the bloat, but even so, with SO's, guests and the odd homeless person invited in, we will be about 25 to 30 for the actual meal tomorrow. It will be crazy.

Anyway, happy turkey day to all of you.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

My Monthly Cycle

This is one of the things that I have been doing with my time. The old girl was due for a new timing belt, and as long as I had the whole front end torn off, I thought why not put in new motor mounts, swap the turbo, put in a new valve cover gasket (done), and remove the inter-cooler for cleaning (done). Made sense when I was laying in bed thinking about it.

Of course, like with all projects (I'll get to the bathroom in a moment), what seemed simple and logical during the planning process, always gets more interesting and complex during the execution (sometimes so much so that the term "execution" takes on a whole new meaning).

This is a multi-day project that will, no doubt, involve unplanned trips to the dealer (hey, why not pay through the nose?), frequent trips back into the house (take off greasy shoes before heading downstairs to the computer to look up part numbers and consult the official repair manual that only runs under windoze, hence the trip downstairs to work on the PC), more time spent than you would have thought possible looking for a particular tool that seems to have blended into the background - covered by the cloak of invisibility, and the enevitable cries of shock and dismay as I realize I just spent two hours reinstalling a part but forgot to hook up that little dingus underneath it. Then there are the parts that break when you try to move the piece next to it. Arghhh.

So, tomorrow I'll take a little vacation across town where I will spend six hours laying on a plastic bed with tubes running into me. Don't tell me I don't know how to have a good time.

This will mean that my little car project will take a bit longer than originally estimated. I just hope that I can get it all put back together in time to head north next week for Turkey Day.

The title of this post refers to a couple of things. One might be the frequency with which I am posting these days. I know I promised to do better, but those daily soaps are SO compelling and after a few hits of tequila and a box of bon-bons, I just don't feel like writing.

Another thing it might refer to is my thumbnails (digits, not digital images). You see, when I look at the back of my thumbs, specifically at the nails, I see a record of my recent history. They look a bit like corrugated tin. They are rippled, ridges and dips that mark the timing of my chemo sessions. Since the fingernails, like hair follicles and cancer cells, are "fast growing" parts of the body, traditional chemotherapy hits them all in a very democratic fashion. That is why my thumbnails tell the story of my chemo, much like the rings of a tree portray a record of it's growth, only in my case, you don't have to cut them off to see them. Yea.

Of course, it's not all been bon-bons and anti-freeze. There was the day that I finally succumbed to the temptation to scrape JUST A LITTLE of the rust that had been growing slowly alongside the shower doorway, down low, just above the baseboard.

Now I knew, deep down in the reptilian part of my brain, the part that never really sleeps because it assumes that someone is looking to make it lunch (as in "it will be", not have it served), the part that knows not to scratch an itch because it will just lead to more scratching and end up with a suppurating wound that will turn gangrenous and ultimately cause death, that I shouldn't scrape that rust - none of it, not an atom, not a whisp, not even look at it. And do you know how depressing it is to have a part of your brain with the IQ of pi be smarter than the part that sits in the driver's seat day in and day out? It is not very gratifying, I can tell you that.

I can also tell you that one little pick led to another, and another, and so on until I had exposed the cancerous hole that lay beyond the surface and led to the removal of the baseboard below - a piece of wood so waterlogged, so soaked that it compressed like a half an inch of wet tissue paper. I never should have looked at the rust.

Oh, it's dried out now. And there is a cheesy (sorry, Cheesy) looking shower curtain on a wooden dowel with crutch tips at either end closing off the door of what was a walk-in shower. There is also a missing piece of baseboard AND the rust, unfortunately is still there as well.

I thought that I would just go out and buy a short piece of baseboard to match, but it appears that when the house was built, the trim came down directly on a UFO from Mars because there sure as hell is none left here on this planet. What are lumber yards good for anyway? The last place I went too - a custom specialty yard - took one look at it, and in between yawns, said, "Well, you'll just have to fab one up." Oh, OK, I think I will. I'll just go out and break into the wood shop in the middle school over there and plane down a 1x6 so that it's a half an inch thick, then rip it to 5 and a half inches tall, and then cut a 32 degree angle along the mating edge and finally route a small radius on the outside top edge. Right.

It might be worth it if I needed more than a piece four inches long. In the end, I drove down into the Big City (the western one) and visited an old friend who makes a living with wood and asked for help. It took all of about five minutes for him to take a sheet of scrap plywood and turn it into something that closely approximated what I needed. I will have to do the radius by hand and I will have to do some custom sanding to make the piece fit exactly with the slightly aged angle on the mating edge of the board next door that also saw some water exposure.

Oh, and I'll have to paint the rust with some weird chemical that eats rust and poops out something else, then prime it with an oil-base primer, then coat it with some latex that I hope is close to the color it once was. So there is that - a project that waits to be done that I am successfully NOT looking at, now that it's too late.

Just so you know, we are not total incompetents and soap opera besotted imbeciles (well not all the time anyway). I did climb up on the roof last weekend and do the annual death tempting leaf extraction from the gutters using the traditional "green" broom process. I did insist that my son assist me from below. His job was to hold my cell phone with 911 pre-dialed and a thumb hovering over the "call" button just in case I fell off the roof. It is a ways up there on the backside, which is the part that I hope I fall off when I do because it's high enough to nail me right off whereas the front is just high enough to cause severe maiming and I would have to lie there, semi-conscious, in a haze of pain while the ambulance gets lost on the endless curving roads through the forest. Well, there is always next year to look forward to.

Well now, that's quite a lot of typing for someone who is not used to it and who's wrists are already quite sore from wrenching on a car all day. So - enough for now. Hopefully I will get around to putting something up here before a month has gone by. Ta.