Thursday, January 27, 2011

Cleaning up the yard

Helen has been working me hard to trim some trees and clean up a lot of the downed trees in the yard. In addition, we seem to be having a problem with our live oaks, the problem is that they have become dead oaks. We have no idea what is causing the problem, but it's killing ALL the live oaks on our property. The other oaks and pines are fine. I'm in charge of the chain saw and the larger pieces of tree and Helen is getting a lot of the smaller stuff and vines.

My secret tool, the leaf blower!

It gets hot enough to fuse the soil into stone!

Telephoto makes it look like it's close to the woods, not so.

We get rid of a lot of wood in a day. Using the leaf blower forces a lot of air through the fire and all the oxygen allows super combustion and there is very little smoke. Once the fire is cooking, everything burns quickly. Green wood seems to burn as fast as dry wood. AT the end of the day all that's left is a couple of gallons of fine white ash.

There is one thing that keeps going through my mind. All that heat is going to waste. I have a pool with cold water and it would be great if I could find a way to get that heat into the pool. There are wood burning stove to heat water, but they are way too small and would burn wood very slowly. I want to come up with a way that will capture a good part of the wasted heat while still burning at a fast pace.

I had an interesting day yesterday while taking down one of the live oaks. Apparently my boys built a tree house of sorts in the tree. The new chain on my saw was cutting the wood like a warm knife through butter. Then is would hardly cut at all. The consistency of the saw dust change from course chips to a fine dust. When I finally got through the limb, I found a nail embedded in the middle of the wood. Fortunately, I have a 5/32 grinder for my Dremel tool and brought the chain back to a high performance standard. I knew about the nails in another tree and was able to avoid them, but I got caught on the smaller tree.

Tonight I'm very tired and very sore, but I'm happy to be getting a lot of this taken care of. I've gotta get everything ship-shape so we can take off again.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday round-up

The first thing on the agenda today was to get our friend Barbara home from the rehab facility. I've mentioned how well she has been doing and she was practically glowing at the thought of going home. I met Rita at the facility and followed them home. My job was to make sure that nothing bad occurred. Truthfully, I was not needed at all. Barb does so well on her feet that I thought we should stop in the laundry room and let her catch up on the laundry. She's soaking up all the attention from Rita today, but since Rita is now the cook, Barb will be back to cooking before too long. Both Barb and Rita were both delighted to have her home.

Helen has had me working very hard the last two days. The weather has broken and with the warmer temperatures Helen is anxious to get the yard cleaned up. I've been taking down some trees and trimming others while Helen started on the lawn and then moved into the adjacent areas. Last year We got a wood chipper that I thought would make our work easier and allow me to get rid of the trimmings without burning. It is not doing the job. It chips wood of the proper size very well, but it will not take the miles of vines that we have in the yard, nor will it take the thick branches and trunks of trees. We ended up with a burn pile again, and it works particularly well. I have a secret method that burns the wood very quickly. Well not a secret, but a very efficient way. A few years ago I noticed that at large construction sites where a whole forest is taken down, they use a huge blower powered by a big diesel engine. By feeding large amounts of air into the fire, it burns very hot and takes everything, fresh green wood included. I use a leaf blower stuffed into 10 feet of stove pipe. It gets so hot that the wood burns rapidly and the heat even fuses the sand into pieces like meteorite. We have started, but the process will continue for a long time.

A couple of weeks ago I posted the story of the bobcat that the neighbor photographed outside his pool enclosure. A few evenings ago I took Sandy out for her late evening walk to the area we use beside the house. She stopped suddenly and would not step foot into that area. The next morning she did the same thing and I had no idea why. This morning in the dark hours before dawn I took the three dogs out and they ran right into that area. I heard a noise from 20 feet up in the trees and a thud as it hit the ground, then it ran off with a lot more speed than a raccoon can generate. I cannot prove that it was the bobcat, though the neighbor says they've seen it a few times but only caught the photo once. We have see raccoon a lot of times, and when the dogs appear, they just scamper higher up the tree. A small Yorkie or Maltese might be in trouble, but I'm sure my pack of Labs is safe.

Enough for now. This sore, old man is going to turn in early.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Trying Windows Live Writer

Trying a few things to start

Another color

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesday Ramblings

Yesterday was a very dreary day in Inverness. It was cold and rainy all day. We got a total of over two inches of badly needed rain, but it was dismal anyway. When it's like this, I want to curl up in front of the fireplace, drink hot cocoa or eat soup, or sleep. I must have some ursine blood in my body because it really wants to hibernate when the weather is so cold. Today it was much better, with some sunshine after the fog burned off.

Helen and I went to see our friend Barbara at rehab. Her progress is amazing. She is in very good spirits and is not giving them a lot of trouble. She has Rita to do that! We also met Rita, the woman who helps them clean house each week and found her to be a very nice person. Barb was having some hallucinations due to her medicine, and although that is behind her, I fear that she is now having delusions of taking the entire male rehab staff home with her. Being surrounded by such vigorous young men has gone to her head. Good luck Barb!!!

Sam, of Sam and Donna's, made a comment about his black lab being neutered, but three gals in Florida would welcome him anyway. That may be true, as he was referring to our three females, Jodie, Coco, and Sandy. Riggs is always welcome, but Sandy sure would like to have him as he was a couple of weeks ago. Sandy is in "heat", and I have never seen a dog in heat before. We always had spayed females that were neutered long before we got them. Sandy is a riot. There are no male dogs in the area that we're aware of, so Sandy is flirting with Jodie. Jodie doesn't like it and growls at her to keep her away. Sandy just perks up her ears, prances around Jodie and turns her backside to Jodie. Jodie growls and moves away. Sandy has two more weeks of taking it easy from the heart worm treatment, then she will be going in to be spayed.

My dad used to say that the best dog was a spayed female because they were generally good natured and tended to stay close to the house. Of course that was in the day when life was more rural and the dogs were allowed to wander without fences or leashes. Our three are confined to the twp plus acres of the yard that is theirs, so we have no problem. In the course of our years with Labrador Retriever Rescue of Florida, we have had quite a number of labs, male and female, pass through our house. I have yet to see an aggressive Lab.

We got a notice last night that there is another female lab that needs to be fostered. She's a beautiful black female and she's pregnant. The story that goes with her is that her owners up and moved and just left her and a male behind in a pen. Both dogs appear to be pure bread Labs, so the puppies should be spectacular. We would like to help, but we're still burned out after the last litter. Besides, we don't have a black lab in our pack and the possibility that Helen couldn't part with the mother at the end is too great. We both love our three dogs greatly, but I can't help but think that it's going to be a bit more difficult to travel with all three. If we got a fourth, I might as well sell the motorhome.

Tomorrow I'm expecting the temperature to rise above 70 degrees. I will be elated, but I will also have to get my act together and get to some of the projects around here that need doing.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Just trying to get up to date.

I suppose that I have a lot to report since my last post, but I have to try to prioritize the news and put it in some kind of order.

First, our friend Barbara has had knee replacement surgery on Monday. She may read this so I'd better watch what I say. When I first saw her on Tuesday,(I Think), and she really didn't look too good. She had been in a lot of pain and was very uncomfortable. There was a monitor beside her bed that kept going into alarm and it was driving the whole floor crazy. Since it was right beside Barb's left ear, it must have been really terrible. Fortunately, when we went to see Barb last night it was a whole new story. Barb was alert and looked very good. She'd been up and walking a little and has made a remarkable improvement. Originally, she had planned to return home with Rita after the surgery, but I suspect the surgery was a little more difficult than it was the last time. At any rate, Barb was moved to a rehab facility until she feels well enough to go home. I believe the choice is hers.

The past week has been a very busy week for me as I prepared for another year as an AARP TAXAIDE volunteer. We are the people who will do your tax return for free. There are a few things to know, if you have not availed yourself of this service before. The service is for EVERYONE, age doesn't matter. You do not have to belong to AARP. The amount of money you make is not important, however, we cannot process income from rental property, businesses, or military income. I get a great deal of satisfaction from doing the taxes of people who have a very small income, yet paid a lot of money in the past to have a very simple return done. It was a week of classes every day and homework most nights. The worst part is the test at the end. If you fail the test, you are allowed one retest. Flunk the retest and you're out. I obsess over the test. I did pass and I will be working two days a week. One at the Lakes Region Library close to home and another at the Floral City Library about nine miles away. That'll keep me busy until the middle of April.

A couple of weeks ago I went out to check the motor home and found the water pump running but pumping no water. The tank was empty. I checked the level in the black and gray water tanks and they were both empty and I could not see ANY evidence of leakage anywhere in the camper. I connected the hose to the house water and checked as much as I could. Still, there was no evidence of a leak. I filled up the fresh water tank and disconnected the hose. Yesterday I went out to check the rig because I had to take it in for service today. I saw where there was a leak from the passenger side of the bus. Inside, I removed the drawers around the sink and stove and could see dampness way back where I would have no chance of getting access. I shut off the pump and opened the system drain to take all the pressure off the water system. Something I'd have to attack later.

This morning I took the bus to the local RV dealer to have the second Norcold refrigerator recall done. The last time, the technicians had to remove the refer from the wall to do the job and I ASSUMED that the same would be true today. I set the heat way up and opened the slide to give them room. My appointment was for 8:30 and I was a tad early. Did I mention that I've had a busy week? Well, I laid down on the sofa at around 8:45, and when I next opened my eyes it was after 11:00. I was perturbed that no one had been inside to fix the refer. I went to the service desk and asked when it would be done. "Huh?? It was done a couple of hours ago!!" I said no one came into the motor home and was told that this recall is done from the outside. A bit skeptical, I opened up the outside access to see what had changed. Sure enough, there was a modification done as I could see all the new shiny parts. Another important thing is that I saw the water leak that was dodging me. There is a very small plastic tube that brings water to the ice maker. It connects with a compression fitting to female hose fitting. The hose fitting to solenoid was the leaking spot. I again drained the water system and removed the hose fitting. There was combination hose gasket / metal screen filter that had come apart. I have replacements. In just a few minutes the problem was solved.

I was reading Sam's blog yesterday and I was taken by his thought on maintaining family contacts. Helen and I have been surrounded by our parents, close friends, and my unmarried Aunt all our lives. When we traveled by RV, all the surviving members would accompany us. MY brother and I chat at least once a week, every week. When we travel north we'll spend a couple of weeks camped at "Campground Ricky", where he has water and a 50 amp outlet for me. Now Rick has a place over in Palm Bay on Florida's east coast and when he's down, we'll either stay there for a few days or get a campground right around the corner. One year we all pitched in to give his house a new paint job. Some years I took the boat and we'd fish a few days.

Helen and I have two sons, with which we have a precarious relationship at best. We may hear from them several times a week or not hear from them in months. We are in frequent contact with our friends and feel that we can depend on some of them more than we could our sons. Of course I realize that they also have very busy lives and there is a great deal going on right now. Still!!!!!