Sep 1

I know only a few people will probably ever read these, but it was always my intention to use this like a diary and remember the things in my life that were important to me that I did not mind sharing with anyone in the world who stumbled upon them.

Once again life has gotten in the way of my best intentions.  Day to day I seem to forget to take the few moments that it would take to add something here.  I blame Facebook, I seem to wonder into FB then lose track of time and find I’ve spent 20 minutes just scrolling down through a myriad of friends and random weirdness, usually funny, but still it seems like lost time sometimes.  Of course work, life, family and whatever the crisis of the moment happens to be have all contributed to my lack of attention.

The last few months have been as hectic as is normal is around here.  The last month has been especially trying because first Mama Bear got sick, then about two weeks into it, as she was recovering I managed to catch whatever this bug is.  It seems to be almost opportunistic, capable of determining what part of your immune system is weakest and attacking there.  I ended up with a sinus infection following what appeared to be a cold and cough, then throw in what might have been conjunctivitis on top of the sinus’ infection.

In the middle of all that I also changed employers again, same job, same environment and servers and software that I have been working on for over 11 years now, but this is the 5th employer.

I did try to shoot the Perseid meteor shower and managed to capture a couple.

Persied Meteor Aug. 13, 2018

Perseid Meteor Aug. 13, 2018

And I have managed a couple canning sessions; a few pickles but more salsa.  The neighbors have contributed to that end.  This summer a branch from one of the trees in our back yard came down and took down one of the next door neighbor’s fence panels.  My buddy from across the street (the source of peppers and other yummy garden delights) and I rebuilt the fence panel.  Then the next door neighbor brought over a bag of tomatoes.  The friend from across the street had given me a bunch of sweet-heat peppers and requested a batch of salsa using them instead of my normal Hatch recipe.  So I decided to use both neighbors fresh veggies, and got some more tomatoes from the corner farm stand and made a batch of sweet-heat salsa.  That was an excellent decision, this salsa has enough warmth to let you know it’s salsa, but has a great sweet-heat pepper taste.  The only downside was the batch only made 5 jars, with 2 going across the street and 1 going next door, that only left 2 for us.  I am committed to making at least one more batch of that this year.

Salsa Prep

Salsa Prep

We also took our grandson to see Thomas the Train at one of the local historic railroads.  We were able to ride the train watch it come in and out of the station several times.

Thomas the Train

Thomas the Train

I am ashamed to say I have not worked on the truck in months.  Hurting my shoulder/arm, then life being non-stop, then getting sick, well there just hasn’t been time to get out to the garage for much of anything.

The piano desk on the other hand is almost done, I’ll be putting up a post about that soon.


May 7

Here is another quick update, this was some shots of the piano coming apart.

I began by taking off the front panels, that was easy, they are designed to come out…

Doors removed

Doors and panels removed

Then I removed the fold down cover over the keys…

Me hard at work

Me hard at work

Next I tackled the hammer assembly, please note I’m not sure that’s the right terminology, but it had to come out no matter what it was called.

Coming apart

Coming apart

Then I started taking out the keys.  I cleaned each one and the tray holding the assembly.

Keys coming out

Keys coming out

And finally I removed the key assembly and the tray running across the supports.  Now comes the real fun, removing the piano wires.

Piano wires

Piano wires

I could have bought a piano tuning wrench, it would have made life much easier.  But no I tend to do things my own way, so I had to make my own tool so I could work on it right away…

My homemade piano tuning wrench

My homemade piano tuning wrench

Now comes the cleaning and reassembly, more to follow…


Apr 20

It has been a long time since I posted here last (I slipped the piano post in yesterday), I plead guilty of allowing life to get in the way.

The truck has been sitting in the garage waiting for warmer weather.  I have stayed busy with things around the house, I went out to the garage a few weeks ago and spent some time trying to get organized and clearing space so once warm weather hits I can get moving on it again.

I did have a realization that the first thing I will have to do in the near future, is going to be put in at least one new garage door.  We have a 2 car garage with 2 doors.  For years the far side was blocked off, the opener didn’t work, so I screwed the door to the wall to seal it closed.  When we brought the truck home, I moved the woodworking to the far side and didn’t think about it.

This week, while talking through things that I need to do and want to do, I realized that since I can’t get the garage door open, I can’t get a new table saw into the garage, and I can’t get the engine block out of the garage… unless I move the truck.

Since the truck is on jack stands with the wheels removed, that is not likely to happen, so the first thing I have to do is put in a new door on the far side so I can get things in and out and expand the shop out into the drive when I need more space.

The piano is well under way and I will be posting more updates on it as I can.  I’m going to be behind on posting for that, it is going together already and I haven’t put together the photo’s of it coming apart… LOL


The piano

posted by mark
Apr 19

Family legend has it that my grandfather bought my grandmother a piano.  When she got sick he learned how to play it and also an organ.

The piano stayed in their home for many years after my grandmother passed and when my grandfather passed away, it was given to my family.  I was in the military stationed in Wyoming at the time, and the military shipped it for me and it has resided in my home ever since.

Much to my mother’s dismay, she was a piano teacher, I can’t play the piano in spite of years of lessons.  My children didn’t pick it up either, in spite of attempts at lessons.  So the piano has sat in my home, a piece of family history, and as much as I love it, it was never going to be appreciated by being played.  The sounding board is also cracked badly, so would require extensive repairs.

I have thought about doing many things with it over the last few years; a fish tank, a computer cabinet, TV cabinet or a desk.  Nothing ever seemed to click in my head.

A few weeks ago, I was sitting in my office staring at it, when it clicked.

Mama Bear will tell you, that I do not start projects until I can see the end in my mind.  This time was very different, I have no idea what the end will look like, but I am building my new desk, pictures will follow.

The start of the journey

The start of the journey


Dec 25

When we moved into our home over 15 years ago, the fireplace had a wood burning insert.  But the fans didn’t work and I was leery of using it.

The original fireplace

The original fireplace

Mam Bear loves having a fireplace, so after a while, we found a gas log insert, the kind that doesn’t require venting and we bought it, then hired a local company to run a gas line to it.  Running the gas line cost more than the actual logs… LOL

We used it, but not much.  The kids tended to “own” the living room space, and the way the furniture was arranged did not lend itself to cozy evenings by the fireplace.  Several years ago, once we had stopped trying to use it altogether, I had blocked the fireplace off with some Styrofoam to keep it extra insulated.  I totally rebuilt the mantle to hang a TV above the fireplace when we had all the kids at home.

Yesterday afternoon, while Mama Bear and I were talking about how this was going to be our first Christmas home alone, no kids, no waking at 5 AM to tell them to go back to bed (admittedly that hasn’t happened in years), she made the comment she would love to be able to sit in front of the fireplace.

So I decided to give her an “extra” Christmas present.  I went down to the garage and grabbed some tools, grabbed the vacuum from my office, and headed off to do battle.  It took me about an hour to get everything cleaned up and then find a fresh battery before I could try it out.  But once everything was adjusted and tested, we ended up sitting in front of the fire for a while and relaxing.

I am still learning that time and effort often are the best present I can give, but to my wife I will always give her the best I can.

The new fireplace

The new fireplace

Merry Christmas Mama Bear.


To my wife

posted by mark
Nov 4

Admittedly and shamelessly ripped off, but it expresses how I feel very well…

To my wife,
Never forget that I love you.

If I could give you one thing in life,
I would give you the ability to see yourself through my eyes.

Only then would you realize how special you are to me.


Oct 7

A long time ago, not to far away from here as the crow flies, I had another hobby…  Model Railroading.

When I left for the military everything got packed into boxes and stored.  Over the years I had friends who had model RR’s that I would help or go work on, and I managed to collect some stuff second hand or at garage sales that went into boxes.

A few months ago, I told Mama Bear that I wanted to open up the railroad again.  This amused her as she had never been a part of that part of my life, and it isn’t like I have enough time as it is to get everything else done already…

The planning started, and in my typical fashion, it got kind of wild.  I went through multiple iterations, trying to see what I could do depending on what gauge I used, lots of planning.  Some small, but most of them grew to the size of my office, which is half of our basement… LOL

Dreaming big

Dreaming big

Mama Bear was not quite so excited by the prospect of trains circling the room, and intruding through the middle, depending one which set of plans you were looking at.  The question of which gauge to use was also problematic.  I already had some stuff in HO, but going to N would give me a huge space advantage because it is so much smaller than HO.  I didn’t know how much stuff I had in HO, but I figured it was worth looking at switching just because of getting so much more mileage of track if I did.  This went on for months.  I didn’t actually do anything except lay out track plans.

Finally, this week I decided I wanted to make some sort of progress.  So after work and a couple times at lunch, I built a table and then started to try to find the boxes with the old train gear.

The table got built

The table got built

It took me several days to find the boxes, and I am sure there is at least one more missing, but the “stuff” made an appearance on the new train table.

The mess gets laid out

The mess gets laid out

This morning I went down and started trying to figure out just what all do I have, and what is worth keeping or pitching.  It turns out I have quite a bit more than I originally thought, not a huge amount, but definitely more than I thought.

Things starting to get organized

Things starting to get organized

So I think the decision is to stick with HO for now at least.  And for Mama Bear’s sanity, the start will only be a single board, but built with expansion in mind.  I plan on laying out the basic areas, building some industry and switching into the base board with one continuous outer loop.  But build the switches in for the next phase so I don’t have to tear anything up when I can expand.  I currently plan to run a loop of the main board that circles my desk on one side, then the other loop will be a long countryside run, probably crossing the Mississippi river, with an eventual city at the other end.

Basic beginning layout

Basic beginning layout

I also found some treasures.

Long hauler

Long hauler

Another hobby has crawled from the woodwork…


Oct 5

According to National Geographic

In the Northern Hemisphere, the harvest moon is the closest full moon to the fall equinox, which usually happens on or around September 22. That means the harvest moon usually occurs in September. But this year, the September full moon appeared on the 6th, separating it from the fall equinox by 16 days. The October 5 full moon arrives only 13 days after the fall equinox, making it the closer pairing.

 

For most of us, the harvest is not quite as symbolic as it used to be, we are not so much an agrarian society any more.  But it does still signify the coming of fall, the changing of the seasons and as the days grow noticeably shorter, many people feel the coming of winter.  For some people that is cause to celebrate, for others a time to mourn the passing summer days.

Tonight we were graced with enough clouds to give some character, but clear skies for a beautiful view of the moon as it climbed into the night sky.  It was wonderful given we had rain for much of the day.  I decided to take both cameras, the extender, the longest lens we own and the telescope out tonight as the moon was climbing through the cloudy horizon.

The cloudy Harvest moon

The cloudy Harvest moon

The moon played peek-a-boo with us for a while.

The Harvest moon and the clouds

The Harvest moon and the clouds

But I was able to get several nice shots with the telescope, with and without clouds.  The clouds actually seemed to improve the definition of the moon.

The Harvest moon through the telescope

The Harvest moon with some clouds through the telescope

The one downside of shooting the full moon is that as bright as it is, you lose the definition and contrast the shadows provide when the moon is lit obliquely, as opposed to straight on.  But it is still a beautiful sight to see.

The October Harvest moon through the telescope

The October Harvest moon through the telescope


Sep 27

It can give us refreshing scenes, it can bring us calming breezes, or it can sometimes bring us devistating storms, but it always brings change.

Last night as I was walking with my friend, at the end as we turned towards home I saw a lone cloud in the sky, the road led straight to it and it was the only thing visible in the sky other than the moon as the sun was setting.  This cloud was lit from behind with a bright orange glow that surrounded the edges and peeked through in thin spots from within the cloud.  As we hit the house I ran inside to grab my camera.  The camera couldn’t quite capture the brilliance of the glow, but it is close.

The Illuminated Cloud

The Illuminated Cloud

As the sun continued to set, the moon slowly became the brightest object in the sky.  I have tried to capture the moon here as the sky began to darken while the horizon was still lit by the sun going down.

The evening sky

The evening sky

A couple nights before, as we were coming home I saw the moon as it was setting.  22% Waxing Crescent.

22% Waxing Crescent Moon

22% Waxing Crescent Moon


Sep 6

Beautiful full moon last. Well 99.93% full when I took this picture, it was actually full at 3:06 AM this morning, but there was no way I was getting up at 3 AM to try to capture the perfect full moon shot…

The full Corn Moon

The full Corn Moon

The night before, my neighbor and good friend came knocking on my door.  He and his wife were walking their dogs and he saw the moon rising over the trees. We had mixed cloud cover that was moving fast and the moon was glowing orange as it passed in and out of the clouds.

I grabbed long pants (the mosquitoes are still out in force around here) and then grabbed the tripod, my camera and an extra lens and rushed out the door. As he led me down the street to get to the perfect vantage point, I thought I would grab a couple wide angle shots before trying to get in tight on the moon.

The long lens shots didn’t work out as the clouds moved in, but here is one as it rose over the trees with some light clouds passing in front.

Bad moon rising...

Bad moon rising…