Well, that booster shot I got yesterday laid me pretty low. I was alright yesterday but woke up feeling pretty lousy this morning and things only got worse as the day went on. I went upstairs with a fever and napped for a couple of hours in the afternoon, feeling achy and stiff. Hopefully things will settle down tomorrow and I can get back upright.

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I got a text from our friend Stephen who is downsizing some of his IH collection in preparation for moving in with his girlfriend, and he wanted to know if Bennett or I were still interested in the IH fridge we helped him move a couple of years ago. Bennett, who doesn’t have a spare square inch of empty storage in his house, passed, so it looks like it’s coming here! We’re not really using the old fridge in the garage for anything so I’m going to put that up on Craigslist and get it out of here, and then we can move the big white beast in its place. My entry from that day notes that it does work, so it’ll be a great place to store beer for wrenching weekends.

Date posted: November 9, 2021 | Filed under house, photo | Leave a Comment »

That’s better. I’m going to dirty it up a little more—the vibe I’m going for is distressed matchbook printing from the 1950’s.

Date posted: November 9, 2021 | Filed under art/design | Leave a Comment »

 

This is about 2 hours’ work. I’m working on a weathered version of this design but haven’t perfected it yet. The kerning in the subhead is shit and the buildings still need refinement, but it’s coming along.

In other news, I got my COVID booster shot after waiting an hour for a Walgreens clerk who had clearly been smoking some really good shit; watching her tap at the keyboard as if it was made of spiders was hilarious for about ten seconds and then infuriating for the next ten minutes. But it’s done. Let’s see how I feel on Tuesday.

Date posted: November 8, 2021 | Filed under art/design | Leave a Comment »

On Saturday morning we all got up early, dressed in warm clothes, and walked to the Knights of Columbus building down the street (semi-famously the site of the Catonsville Nine burning draft cards in 1968) to volunteer for a Thanksgiving food drive. There were three areas set up to receive, sort, and then box incoming food, manned by a swarm of older women confidently moving and arranging and directing. Cars drove up, the KoC guys would unload, and a group of volunteers would sort by expiration date. They brought the sorted food to one of two tables and a third group would move it to another long set of tables covered in labeled boxes: this is where it got sorted by type. I picked up a milk crate, joined the third group, and got to work. It was a cold morning that warmed up as the sun rose over the trees, and everyone was in a friendly, cheerful mood. I bonded quickly with my fellow runners, and we made light of jostling for “the good stuff” at the pickup table. Jen manned the first sorting table and had to deal with some strange donations—a bag of old duck sauce, an individually wrapped slice of birthday cake, opened boxes of food, ancient canned goods—and Finley worked as a runner with me. By 11AM we’d cleared the donations, and the dropoff line was quiet. A group of high school students appeared, looking to fulfill some of their mandatory public service time, so we walked back home in the sunlight and hunted for some lunch.

* * *

After several years willfully ignoring the mess that our woodpiles have become, I took advantage of the afternoon and started cleaning it up. We’ve burned through a little less than two cradles since I split everything before the Year of Cancer and they’ve sat empty since then, surrounded by weeds and the large rounds that were still too wet to split. I pulled everything off the mostly empty cradles and moved them out of the way, then got the Hi-Lift off the Scout and used that to jack up the sinking  sides of the remaining cradles so that I could level them off again. I used my new impact driver to break down the older of the two empty cradles and got that out of the way. All of the good wood got restocked and buttoned up under tarps. Then I broke out the maul and took a couple of whacks at the big round on the lawn; one half of it blew apart easily, rotted from being exposed for so long. The other half—the knotted crook half—refused to give up, so I rolled that into the neighbors’ ivy patch (they never look back there) and raked up the lawn. I still have to break down the other cradle, but it’s nice to have a clean lawn and a tidy woodpile again.

Date posted: November 8, 2021 | Filed under general, house | Leave a Comment »

Last week I discovered that the gas strut holding up the hood on the Scout had ungassed itself, and set about looking to replace it. Looking over the manufacturer’s plate I found the company online and sourced a replacement in about five minutes. Because they are a volume distributor, their online presence is geared towards large companies doing bulk purchases, and their form would not allow for the fact that I am a consumer and only buying two items; it required a company name. I quickly chose something that described my ever-expanding manufacturing empire perfectly: Dugan Heavy Industries. When I got to the shipping section of the checkout, it timed out without letting me go any further, so I had to call to place the order. When the CSR took my order, she looked up my information and chuckled at the name I’d chosen; this was after I told her I only needed two pieces. (I ordered two because the minimum order fee was $50, one strut was $30, and I figured it was better to spend a little extra to have a backup on hand).

I think I might whip up a design and have some shirts made.

* * *

Plans are made for a return to Chestertown next weekend to resume work on the schoolbus. I’m working 9-hour days this week and the next to be able to leave Thursday night. Friday we’ll be putting in the floor and Saturday we’re installing the seats! They came in last week and are waiting for us to get cracking again. I’m excited to make some more progress and move the interior further along, even if it means we’ll be working in 50˚ weather in a shed (hopefully Brian has a portable heater). When that’s done we can start blocking out space for the cabinetry and built-ins, and that will make a huge difference in the visible progress to date.

 

Date posted: November 5, 2021 | Filed under humor | 2 Comments »

…literally. Overnight temperatures got below freezing so we brought the plants inside and made sure all of the windows were shut and dogged tight. All of the AC units came out last weekend and I closed the attic up a few weeks ago. Last Saturday I closed up the back wall of the greenhouse, broke the rain barrels down and stored most of the lawn furniture and outdoor gear inside.

I’m planning on building a small fire in the fire pit and reorganizing the remaining firewood on the cradles this weekend. We’ve burned through one and a half cradles, and the remainder needs to be consolidated and the cradle broken down. I’m also going to look into having the chainsaw blade sharpened so that I can break the two remaining stumps down—five years after the trees came down—and into useful firewood. Several nights I’ve gone outside to take out the garbage or go grab the dog and I’ve smelled woodsmoke, and I get the hankering for a nice warm fire.

Date posted: November 3, 2021 | Filed under house | Leave a Comment »

Some aides huddled in the area just outside the Oval Office where Trump’s receptionist had her desk, hoping the president would wave them in and ask for their advice. But Trump was not seated behind the Resolute Desk; he was holed up in his private dining room, where the television was turned on, and some aides did not want to intrude on him there.

The Washington Post has done a great, harrowing longform story on the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol; it’s worth the read (if you have an Amazon Prime account, I think you get The Washington Post for free).

[Liz] Cheney also encountered Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), another Trump supporter trying to overturn the results. He told her: “We need to get the ladies away from the aisle. Let me help you.” Cheney told him: “Get away from me. You f—ing did this.”

 

Date posted: November 1, 2021 | Filed under politics | Leave a Comment »

Having spent a month working on the bus with Brian, I found myself wishing I had a more purpose-built vehicle for the trip and for the work. Driving the Scout was awesome, of course, and it’s easy to throw heavy tools in the back and hit the road. But I’m always worried about rain getting tools and the truck wet, and until I get the electrical, wipers and fuel gauge sorted out, I’m going to be preoccupied with the weather report instead of enjoying the ride.

We bought our current cars to transport our family with the most available room and the best possible gas mileage, but a gray sedan does not make hauling tools or drywall easy—in this I have firsthand knowledge. The CR-V does great for a lot of things but it’s not fair to Jen for me to be stealing that all the time, given that she has no love for the Accord.

Looking ahead to the next vehicle in our future, I have been seriously considering a pickup of some kind—but not a Texas-size mall crawler. There are several medium-sized pickups on the market right now that look really good: the Tacoma has always been an attractive option, of not trendy, and Ford just re-introduced the Ranger. Both offer quad cabs and several trim packages that would fit our needs well. I’m not looking for a lifted overland-kitted expedition vehicle, but something with all-wheel drive would be nice. Ford offers a stripper version of the Ranger with rubber flooring and base-level accessories but I bet we’d never see one of those in the wild without special ordering it. I’d like something that offers reasonable gas mileage, seats four people, and maybe even has a manual transmission (the Ranger doesn’t have this yet, but the Tacoma does).

I do a daily search for Scout parts in my area on the off chance something good will show up, and that search usually includes whole vehicles. I stumbled across an ad for a 1966 International D1200 pickup that is just the right amount of beat-up without being disgusting. The common vintage car term for it these days is ‘patina’ but it just looks like a well-worn International to me. It’s a V8, it’s a manual, and it’s a longbed. I don’t see a second stick present, so it’s rear-wheel drive, like God intended. The top of the cab looks clean, the dash is in good shape, and look at that bench seat!

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks thinking about this truck and trying to put it out of my head. I don’t have anyplace to store it under cover. There’s a good chance the brakes on this rig are built with parts I wouldn’t be able to replace—and I’m not that interested in an axle swap. International D-series sheetmetal is rarer than hen’s teeth on the east coast. The tailgate looks pretty crusty. There’s a line of rust around the rear fenders all the way around the truck. There are no pictures of the rockers, door pillars, or cab corners—the most likely places for this truck to rot. There is no picture of the bed itself, which means it could be made of road signs and roofing tar.

But god, would I love to load this thing up with a toolbox and Jen and Hazel and take it to the landscapers’ and fill the bed with bushes or mulch or dirt and haul it all home. And I could see Jen driving it as well.

Date posted: November 1, 2021 | Filed under cars | Leave a Comment »

Our neighbors invited us to come out and play trivia with them at a local restaurant on Monday night, and because we really like them and we love trivia, we readily agreed. They have a big banquet room below the main bar where tables were set up, and by the time Jen and I got there most of them were full with big groups of people. Our team was just the four of us—but we were a pair of Trivial Pursuit veterans and a pair of internationally educated British expats. We started out strong, and the sports-related questions were some easy softballs I was able to field. We took a few hits midway through the game, but wound up tied for first place after the final question. The woman running the event held a tiebreaker and because we were able to estimate the shoe size of the Statue of Liberty, we won a $20 bar tab!

Date posted: October 27, 2021 | Filed under friends | Leave a Comment »

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Date posted: October 26, 2021 | Filed under hazel, photo | Leave a Comment »