Global Skywatch

Ted’s essays

trying to be like a duck

My hands so very tired … I must reduce my demands on them.

I continue to be grateful for the most useful one semester class Sonoma State University sold to me: “Stress Management”. In times like these I often benefit greatly from laying flat on my back, telling tense body parts to “let go”, and getting my mind into the zone.

“Why?”, you might ask.

Our rental became our future home a couple months ago. Our stable lives got real busy.

I canceled my ham licensing study group and the trombone lessons I was giving. Those commitments, I had to admit to myself, were just too much.

The abandoned, unlicensed pair of non-functioning cars and dilapidated trailer are out of our lives. The tailings of electronics, toys, clothing, furniture, goat sheds, rabbit hutches, hot tub and mountain of jetsam have been given, donated, traded and hauled out.

Several pine trees that I considered to be significant fire hazards have been taken down. There are more evergreens I will have an arborist remove to let the winter sun better reach our home and greenhouse. Some of them will go to a local Mom’n’Pop mill for trade, while quite a bit of milled lumber will come back for construction purposes.

We had a deck installed that connects the two entry porches, with an integral ramp to facilitate entry for less able. Three old people now occupy this home. Any one of us could need the easier access in a blink. More accidental than on purpose, the greenhouse will have a ramp entry enabling wheelchair access to the basement too.

I did a little simple, modest finish carpentry in Mom’s closet fully intending to do a finer job someday. That particular someday may be a long time coming. It turned out acceptable to the inhabitants.

The greenhouse stem wall has been poured. The photo is of the footings going in. I have 10 yards of quality compost to mix with topsoil for our greenhouse permanent beds. The dirt has yet to be ordered. The silt barrier fabric to separate the soil from the drain rock underneath it is on the way. The straw to go on top of it is on my shopping list. The bed filling must precede the greenhouse walls so we can use machines to move 8 cubic yards of material instead of shovels and wheelbarrows.

Carport shed roof supports stand naked next to the garage. The lumber and roofing material has been delivered. I have a contractor working on this and the Greenhouse construction.

Snow brakes are on the schedule. The roof design sloughs off dangerous drifts in front of the entries. Brakes are much more practical than roof redesigns.

Our food pantry has been moved … well, mostly. The kitchen hardware is in a similar position with much here and quite a bit yet to make the trip.

The broken power pole has been replaced before it let us down.

My needed creek crossing repair FAR EXCEEDED even my most imaginative expectations. I stumbled across a young man who LOVES rockwork and turned our utilitarian culvert setup into a very attractive feature.

Scrounged materials have turned into a design for a FedEx/UPS delivery cabinet. Delivery drivers do not pass through gated entries unless they know you well. I want our mail orders to be less exposed to weather and passerbies. This project is also being contracted out to my hardscaping guy.

Cable phone and high-speed, unlimited INTERNET are in and working like a dream.

Drainage culvert has been unburied with catch basin dug; logs protecting basin and culvert entrance.

1,000 gallon propane tank has been refilled. New gas range is on the way.

Horribly inefficient of both space and gas, the fake fireplace is gone. The cleanup is still incomplete. Installation of the replacement room heater along with replacing our electric range with a gas one is about two weeks out. The wood stove gets its fresh air intake plumbed in at the same time.

My chicken coop remodel is half done. The flock of 20 includes an extra rooster or two that need to be dispatched to cut social pressures among them, and reduce feed costs. They also need more fencing to keep the chicken yard and the people yard separate. They do poop a lot. The chickens, that is.

Greenhouse construction cost a very old apple tree its life. Its corpse lies in the middle of the yard awaiting my chainsaw and splitting maul to turn it into apple wood for a smoker (needing repair) that the gypsies abandoned.

Our firewood supply is 4.5 cords out of the eight I want to enter winter with. Here too, I found The Right Guy for my firewood delivery.

I set up a log splitting station by the growing firewood stacks and a kindling splitting station in the basement adjacent to a full year’s supply of free mill-end kindling that the squatters left behind.

I studied, shopped for, ordered and received the snow blower that will provide access to and from our home through winter. Have yet to finish setup, adjustments and test fire.

Shelving, storage systems are only partially complete … more un-done than done.

Studio, office, radio shack and reloading (all one room in both the old and new homes) have yet to move, or even be scheduled to move.

Harvey-Homeowner tinkerers shop has yet to move. At least I have an idea where most of it will go.

My main wood, metal and auto shop will take a full day with multiple men involved. That has yet to be scheduled because I am still making space available.

The barn roof has been repaired; chimney properly installed in it. Many of the wasp nests plaguing the barn have been eradicated. It has A LOT of rodent/weather gaps around the foundation yet to be sealed, but is more done than not.

The UHF and VHF antenna mast is almost complete. I have to install a winch to raise and lower it before I try hoisting the antennas on it.

The HF antenna for regional and national comms has not even entered the planning stages though I have been thinking of ways to implement multiple antennas here. The 12-volt radio power supply move has been thought of, but not yet planned. My mobile UHF and VHF rigs installed in my vehicles plus our handhelds are all I have running right now.

I have most of what I need to get a GMRS repeater up on a knoll nearby… mast is in place, conduit is waiting at my house, repeater has been set up and burned in. I just need to go visit with the host, deliver the conduit, measure the coax requirements and set up a date for installation.

Also requiring my attention, one of my websites got assaulted, forcing me to learn how to repair and defend them.

My low-riding Honda CRX exhaust manifold took a fatal hit from a piece of lumber lying on the highway. A local ARTIST created a replacement manifold cutting and welding most of a new one to the some of the old one. The Beast, after most of the year in and out of the hands of a mechanic who once was great, is today in the artist’s hands to find a troubling intermittent electrical shutdown.

That’s not all of plates I, we, have been spinning, but it sure is a lot. My wife wisely advised against my trying to get all of these projects done this year … “Moving is ENOUGH. Don’t add work.”

I think I will be glad I did it all, but really look forward to the first major snowfall, and the feeling we are well prepared for this winter.