When I was a kid my Dad gave me his wooden X-Acto toolkit and a plan for a balsa wood Sopwith Camel. I spent hours in the basement cutting and gluing and assembling and doping (the fabric, not myself) until I had a working, barely flyable airplane model. I graduated on to a TBM Avenger that I kept for awhile until my buddy Stas and I filled it with fireworks and flew it off the roof of the house to explode over the driveway (Hi, Mom!).

Finley has decided she wants to make a miniature kitchen set with working appliances, and the plan we found online is constructed with balsa wood and glue. In helping her work on the project this afternoon, I recall the pleasure of completing the models and flying them, and the hours of painstaking work it took to get them there.

Working with balsa wood again, I’m really tempted to buy a new model and start building it; this B-24 has a 4′ wingspan and looks like it would be fun as hell to assemble but it’s currently on backorder. Maybe that’s a good thing…

Date posted: May 30, 2021 | Filed under history | Leave a Comment »

This morning is rainy and wet, so there won’t be any painting today. All week the forecast predicted showers off and on, threatening to make our rented lift an expensive lawn ornament, but thankfully the major rain pushed back until late yesterday. I started Friday out at the peak of the west side, going over sections that needed another coat of blue. This time the lift felt a little squirrelier than last time, so I was happy to be done with that area and down on the ground.


I drove the lift out into the yard and backed it up to the house but couldn’t get the leveling beeper to stop no matter how I oriented it. I finally scooched it as close to the garage as I could and swung the boom around to reach the sections I wanted to hit, careful to avoid both the main electrical and phone wires ever so thoughtlessly placed in the center of the back wall.

By 1PM I was able to power wash the upper center section of the back wall, blow off a bunch of white paint I couldn’t reach from the bucket, and then start spraying blue paint in patchwork fashion as I moved the bucket around. Around then it started to drizzle so I came back down, put the tools away, and napped with Hazel for a glorious two hours.

Jen let me know there was a window from 4 to about 7 where it wouldn’t rain, so I hooked the sprayer back up and shot as much as I could reach with the lift in place, and I was able to do about 80% of the back wall before it started sprinkling again.

The plan for Monday, when the weather-guessers claim it will be clear again, will be to paint as much of the eaves as I can with the lift. That will mostly be the center section and possibly some of the area over the kitchen door if I can get the lift over there comfortably. The right side is the question mark. The lift leans toward the garage, so if I swing the lift toward the driveway and extend the boom, it tilts too far for me to feel comfortable, especially at that height. I’ll scrape and paint the windows as quick as I can, but everything at stepladder height can wait for later.

The whole southeast corner of the house is the  problem due to the wires I mentioned earlier, the position of the garage, and the complicated geometry which makes it difficult to put a ladder anywhere stable. If I’ve got time on Monday I’ll see if I can orient the lift to a place where I can reach that area, but I don’t have much hope. So I think I might be doing a lot of pole work from either the roof of the new bathroom or hiring someone to hang their ass out on a ladder to finish it.

Date posted: May 29, 2021 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »


Date posted: May 27, 2021 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »


The morning started pretty well. Jen convinced me to keep the lift in the driveway and take time to re-spray the large sections where we could see uneven coverage on that side, and because she is smarter than I am, I listened to her. That took less time that I figured it might, so by 11AM I was driving the front wheels of the lift up over the curb and onto the front lawn. Once I convinced it that it wasn’t going to tip over, it was happy, and I drove it over the front walk, through the holly tree, and into the side yard.

Starting with the front of the house, I sprayed out a bunch of the siding next to Finley’s window until I was used to the height, and then extended the boom higher so that I was level with the eaves. Some scraping and cleaning got years of flaking paint off the wood, and two coats of exterior paint later it looks a lot better. I scraped Finn’s window and 1/2 of the dining room window, and sprayed out as much as I could on that side.


The sun was much brighter and hotter today. It got up to 90˚ with full humidity, so by 2PM I was melting. I rigged up our table umbrella to the side of the basket and that made a huge difference in the afternoon, but I’m still sunburned and drinking lots of water to recover. The system I’ve got set up—a $30 latex sprayer from Home Depot, a full-size compressor, and the boom lift—makes short work of this.

Tomorrow is my least favorite part of this whole project: the peak of the west side. It’s where the boom will get the squirreliest, as it’s nearing its full extension, and it’ll be the highest I go in this contraption. As it is I’ve got some serious sea legs when I come down off the boom, as my inner ear expects every one of my movements to send the couch or my bed swaying underneath me.

Hopefully I can finish most of the west side tomorrow, and then we move around to the back, just in time for three days of rain.

Date posted: May 26, 2021 | Filed under general, house | Leave a Comment »

house day 1

Here’s the east wall of the house after one day on the boom lift. The paint is on, all the windows are scraped and painted, the eaves are scraped and painted, and the gutter is rehung and cleaned. Can I say that I love the boom lift and would like to own a boom lift?

Date posted: May 25, 2021 | Filed under house, photo | Leave a Comment »

Due to circumstances beyond my control, I had most of the day to fart around when I should have been painting the house. So naturally I turned to the Scout and wiring the foglights. First I pulled the cowl cover off and drilled two holes to screw in the relays, then laid out the wires in their general pathways. The passenger side was relatively easy once the wires passed over the rat’s nest that are the bulkhead connectors. I routed the wire over the heater box, then under the washer tank and down the front of the fender to the lead for the light. The wire for the switch went up in through the two empty holes from the A/C hoses.  There was already a ground bolt connecting to the transmission case directly under that, so I took advantage of the situation.

The driver’s side was more difficult, because space is a little tighter on that side and I wanted to both piggyback on the existing positive battery cables and avoid the hot areas around the brake booster and power steering pump. So that wire and the positive lead go around the back of the firewall, duck behind the battery and down the front of the inner fender to the other light.

As much as I want to trim the wiring down to fit exactly right, I don’t want to tear the looms apart just yet, so I zip-tied the excess into bundles and tucked them out of the way on both sides. None of the wiring in the engine bay is pretty, but that’s a project I’ll gladly hand off to a pro shop to take on in a couple of years when the whole truck gets rewired.

Finally I broke out my Horror Freight dremel and started widening the choke hole to the left of the steering column to fit the switch. But my last $.05 steel grinding bit broke and then so did the chuck on the tool, so that whole thing will go in the trash until I can get back there for another one.

This evening I took the trash out and while the dog did her business in the backyard I tested them out in darkness. First I used the running lights, which are very nice for extra illumination pointed at the ground.

Then I tried the full setting.

Oh my god.

This is blindingly bright. Like, I’m going to need to take this to a flat area, aim it at the side of a building, and adjust the direction so I don’t cause accidents if I ever need to use these on the road. But, success!

Meanwhile, because I am a dork and a brainless tool of our capitalist system, I had to spend money on a six-pack of this coffee to try it out and to have a couple of the cans. Entirely too expensive, and I’m embarrassed to admit it. But I had had a couple of beers, and I thought it looked cool.



→ This is a syndicated post from my Scout weblog. More info here.

Date posted: May 24, 2021 | Filed under Scout | Comments Off on Wired

A very nice man dropped off a 45′ self-propelled boom lift this afternoon as the rain continued to fall and I was fucking around with the Scout. It’s a diesel-powered, gargantuan beast that takes up a good chunk of the driveway. There are more controls up in the basket than a cruise ship. From the lift, one can control the height and length of the booms, the angle and tilt of the basket, as well as drive the whole unit like a car. I’m going to have to study it carefully before I start operating anything; we’re going to start on the driveway side so I can get used to it before I try to get it around to the backyard.

I put together a list of stuff to throw in the bucket with me before I extend it all the way to the eaves: a toolbox full of scraping, sanding, and painting supplies, another toolbox full of general purpose tools (hammer, screws, screw gun, boxcutter, brushes, rollers, etc.), a cooler with water, and a bag of stuff like batteries for my phone/AirPods, Clif bars, a hat, etc. The idea is to stay up for as long as possible without having to come down and go back up repeatedly, as well as attempt to scrape and paint the eaves as much as I can while I’m up there. Hopefully the driveway side will go quickly so I can focus my problem-solving skills on getting it up over the driveway curb and around to the back lawn.

Date posted: May 24, 2021 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »


Problem 1: It’s raining.

Problem 2: the boom lift I reserved, while sounding like it was the perfect solution on the phone, turned out to be larger than the Scout and I could tell it would be impossible to jockey around our yard. So I returned it and they’re going to deliver a 4WD self-propelled arm lift later today.

Date posted: May 24, 2021 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »


Date posted: May 22, 2021 | Filed under friends | Leave a Comment »

It’s been a hell of a ride so far, blondie. I couldn’t imagine doing it with anyone else.

Date posted: May 22, 2021 | Filed under history | Leave a Comment »