Monday, January 31, 2011

New Shovel

When you're training to be a real man, sometimes life boils down to the little things. Case in point, our new snow shovel.

With all the stuff going on in our lives, I forgot to mention to talk about it, and we’re all so excited that we can hardly contain ourselves. For the past three years I’d been using what I believe is a grain shovel to clear the snow, and it’s worked out well. It’s sturdy and not too big so that each load is breaking my back. It may seem at first that the wider the blade, the better, but sometimes you can get too much of a good thing, and it’s not only heavy, but hard to balance. You end up working harder and being less efficient.

The biggest problem I have with our current shovel is that it’s not as efficient at pushing snow out of the way, especially in the driveway. Ideally what I wanted was a handheld plow, though I’m not sure what you call them. They are these big shovels with huge handles that you just push along in your driveway, and they seem to work great. The next best thing to having a tractor. I see them all over, everyone’s got one, though they can be expensive.

Instead, I opted for a basic snow shovel with a metal edge. It’s wider than ours. Not too crazy to make shoveling hard, but big enough to make pushing snow along more efficient. In other words, not the perfect solution, but better than the current situation, which is good enough for me.

Until the next time, thanks for reading

Monday, January 24, 2011

Future Bookcase

I want to build a small bookcase to house the albums for my photo archiving. The one I am currently using is adequate, but in hindsight, smaller than I really need, because do we ever have a lot of albums, which continue to grow. The boards I used were 1X8 pine, but I should have used 1X12 so I could place two rows of albums on each shelf, thus doubling my capacity (I took math in college). What I plan to do is make a wider shelf, and then use the old one to house pottery creations.

Because I am limited in both my ambitions and abilities, I tend to make them 4 feet high and 2 feet long, which is more than enough for a small shelf. This makes it simple because I can get a 4X2 piece of plywood backing at Home Depot, and that’s about the limit in terms of what sort of lumber I can transport in the Fit.

Getting to Home Depot in W.Leb, however, is another matter, and not worth visiting for just one piece of wood. I could get the pine 1X12 for the shelves at Britton’s, but they won’t sell me a 4X2 piece of plywood, and I’d have to get a 8X4 piece, which is not only way too big, but more money than I’d like to spend.

I figured I could just build the shelves, stain them, and then put the backing on later after I’d made my way to W.Leb at a later date, but when I went to Brittion’s, they had a piece of scarp plywood that he gave me for a song and dance. It was bigger than I needed, but he cut it to size and it will work perfectly.

I love when that happens. Now I just need to get started on that case. I got the miter saw in place, so that’s a good first step.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Return of the Miter Saw

The fact that my miter saw is back in the basement can only mean one thing: time to be a real-man and make something. There are several projects on the burner that I’d like to complete, and believe it or not, I even have the materials to make them, which would include lumber and hardware. I can work in the basement though the noise will get crazy and it will make a mess, but these things happen when you take part in real-man activities. I just need to make sure to clean up after myself, something I’m not so good at.

For now, I’ve got the tools and raw materials in place, I just need to take the initiative and get started, which will hopefully be before Spring, but you never know.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Be careful what you wish for, as the saying goes. I’ve been pining away for snow and then we got boatloads of it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy about it, but it does entail a great deal of shoveling.

What complicates the matter is the efficiency of our standing seam roof. Sure enough, it’s doing its job, but it just so happens to unload all the snow onto the walking path in front of the house. This, too, would not be such a huge deal if not for the sleet and freezing rain we had a couple of days ago.

This made the snow not only hard as ice, but heavy as lead. How’s that for a good use of metaphors? Or was it similes? If life is like a metaphor, does that make it a simile?

Anyway, it took me quite a while to shovel through it all, because I had to break the ice before removing it, and man was it heavy. Good training if I ever want to try out for an avalanche rescue team. It took a toll on my back, but every time I wince in pain, I feel myself getting closer to realizing my dream of one day being a real man.

Until that time, thanks for reading.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Installing the Other Ski Rack

Flush from my incredibly strenuous work on the vestibule, I decided to make the most of my momentum and install the other ski rack, the one that’s been sitting on the mud room floor for the past two months. On a bright note, they were already made and stained, so all I had to do was screw them into the wall. Easier said than done, of course.

Part of my motivation was that we’ve been XC skiing a lot more, and since the gear is in use, we needed a proper storage facility, right? It was a little more work because I wanted to secure it to at least one stud, and lucked out and was able to use two, so the rack is secure. This may be overkill, but it also makes it sound like I know what I’m talking about, which for a guy from LA is what it’s all about.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Securing the Header

I finally broke out my hammer and nails and secured the studs holding up that header in the vestibule. I generally use a board that is just slightly big for the space, something my Mentor agrees with, so when I actually push it into place, it is relatively secure. If you wanted to, you could dislodge the piece with a good whack of a hammer, but otherwise it will hold itself in place.

This time around, one of the boards was slightly off, necessitating some shimming, but even with shims, it wasn't that secure. This came to light on numerous occasions when I'd come downstairs in the morning and the board will be dislodged. It amazed me that I didn't hear it, but I also wondered why it fell. I later learned that it was the cats sharpening their claws. The force of the pull was enough to loosen the board, sending it falling. I bet the cats were sure surprised.

I knew I had to nail in the board, it was just too darn easy to put it off. That is, of course, until today. I finally took the time to do it, and as usual, it was quick and easy, and I wondered, again as usual, why I took so long to do it. That, however, is a question for which there is no good answer,

At least the boards are nailed in, and it's one less thing weighing on my shoulders. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Need to Contact The Plumber

Okay, I've been slacking off big time on this one, but I really have to contact B and get things moving along with the barn. He said we could pull it off in the cold, and we'll be out of the snow and rain. Plus, it might be good to do it before the temp drops below zero.

More on this later. Until then, thanks for reading.

First Time For Everything

I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but we’ve had our Mazda for ten years and I’ve never changed the tire on it. In fact, I’ve never so much as touched the spare tire, which is not a good thing when you consider the possibility of getting flat and being stuck, especially when you live out in the middle of nowhere.

I had constantly been saying that I needed to familiarize myself with where the tire was and how to use the jack, but always put it off and opted to take a nap or go for a walk. The jack had sat unused for so long that it actually got all rusty and damaged, and I had to replace it. For the record, I do use the jack to change the oil because the car is so low to the ground I can’t get under it.

Anyway, we had a plan yesterday to hit the Dartmouth Skiway, but ran into a complication from the get go. The Mazda had a flat tire. R came in and told me, and when we looked at it, we could see a massive rock that had punctured the tread.

R took the Fit to work (glad we now have a second car) and I was going to have the car towed to Meunier to have them patch the hole. I called and they said they could squeeze me in. When I contacted AAA, however, they gave me a little guilt trip because it was not a roadside emergency, and they would prefer it if I could use the spare and drive it over. My first thought was, “You drive it over.” I didn’t want to get down in the snow and jack up the car and get my hands dirty, and as I tried to relay this to the guy on the other end of line, I realized how much I sounded like a big sissy.

Besides, as I mentioned, I’d never changed the tire. So, in true real-man (in training) fashion, I broke out that jack (which was generously given to me by RM at Meunier), lifted the car, took off the flat tire and put on the spare, which for the record, is hard to imagine being a functional piece of equipment. It's so darn small. I had some reservations about driving on ice and snow with the dinky little spare, but it wasn’t that bad.

I took the tire over to Meunier, but they were swamped, and had three cars up on the lifts. It dawned on me that I could always just leave the tire and come back, and JM said if I could just come back in an hour, it would be done.

Which I did, and it was. I felt better that I had finally changed the tire, and best of all, I got my hands dirty, like a real man should.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to eat some donuts with my dirty hands. Until then, thanks for reading.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Martha Stewart Meet Bob Vila

Okay, I’m on a roll here with the projects that would make Martha Stewart proud. A had been asking for a way to store her jewelry, so the men in her life came to the rescue. N, being the fantastic brother that he is, was aware of this fact and made her a jewelry box in pottery class that he gave her for Christmas. I thought that was incredibly thoughtful of him.

Next up, something for her necklaces. I had the option of either putting dowels in or hooks, which would have been much simpler. A even said some simple nails would do the trick. I went to Aubuchon and got the hooks but also found some nice carved designer dowels. I decided those would be much nicer, and set about putting them in.

After drilling the holes and a dab of wood glue, we were in business. Of course, I found out later that she has even more necklaces, so I’ll need to go back to the hardware store. Oh well, another chance to be a knight in shining armor. A real man in training needs this in his life now and then.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Electrical Cover Plate

I realize this isn’t much, but with Winter here, I’m scraping for things to write about, and a guy’s gotta do what he’s gotta do. Besides, this has been bugging me for months, and in true fashion, I’ve put it off hoping it would magically take care of itself or better yet, nobody would notice.

Of course, people notice, irregardless of whether or not they actually say something about it. I know this applies to R, who in her infinite patience hasn’t complained about it, but deep in her heart she’s thinking, “What’s wrong with you? Just put the darn thing on.”

So I put it on. It took me a total of 2.5 minutes, and would have been quicker had I used an electric screwdriver, but I didn’t have one. Something to aspire to.

Until the next big project, thanks for reading.