Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Another Glorious Weekend @ The Compound

We’ve been blessed again this past week with more beautiful weather, sunny and warm. Thank God for June...if only it were twice as long and twice as frequent.

Last Tuesday evening we decided to go up to Mr. Quicks for cruise night. We hadn’t been up there since the first night, the first week of May and here it is already, the last half of June. We took Belle and Mercury with us this trip and upon arriving we parked in the back, on the grass and set up camp. The first thing we did was head over to Quicks for a couple of root beer floats. Then we strolled around the grounds, checking out the cars in attendance. There was a guy there with an old 1930’s Hupmobile he’d just began restoring that reminded me of Bonnie and Clyde. All that it needed was a couple Tommy guns in the back seat and some bullet holes in the sheet metal. We hung around until they pulled the numbers for the 50/50 drawing and the door prizes and then loaded up the chairs and the dogs and headed back for home.


I got an email from the wife early Friday morning telling me that Quicks had caught fire and burned down late Thursday night. Here are a couple pics to check out. The owner says he’s gonna rebuild and cruise nights will go on. I wanted to go up last night and check it out but it didn’t happen.

The weekend was spent up at the compound again. Wanda worked a half day and took off with Chris late morning. I got up there my usual time, about 7:00pm. We had hamburgers for supper and took it easy. I didn’t start up a lawnmower or grab a rake all evening. We made a trip up to the lodge about 8ish for an ice cream cone but the place was locked up tight and abandoned. So we came back to camp, got a fire going and stayed pretty close to that until I gave it up and went to bed about 1:00am

Saturday morning I slept in until Mercury woke me up. He wasn’t happy about missing his morning walk. I made breakfast after sitting around a bit and then after eating I fired up the lawnmower and did the path to the road and the front yard. That took awhile and it was a warm one so in between chores it was break time in the shade.

Around noontime we decided to head into town for a stop at Home Depot for Quikcrete (mortar) and Bonsers for some groceries. We made a stop at the Desert Barn in Scottville too for some of their good ice cream and then headed back to camp. The rest of the afternoon was spent cruising around in the truck, rock hunting and mixing mortar and stacking rocks around the fire pit. By the end of the weekend it was about half done and hopefully will be finished our next trip up. After dinner, which consisted of pork chops and corn on the cob, we just hung out and took it easy.

Sunday morning I managed to get up early so me, Mercury and Bailey headed out for a early morning walk. We had a pack of turkeys pop out of the woods in front of us that caused some commotion for a few minutes but other than that it was a nice, quiet stroll thru the woods and around the lake. By the time we got back to camp Wanda was up so I set about making breakfast. After the meal I went about working on the back half of the clearing, trying to get it cleaned up and smoothed out so hopefully some grass will grow there again eventually. Wanda and Chris took off a little after 1:00pm and left me and Mercury by ourselves. We hung out, doing some small chores, (well, I did the chores, he slept under the trailer all afternoon) until about 5:30pm and then shut down, locked up and headed for home. It’d been a beautiful weekend, weatherwise and the first one where I hadn’t worked myself to death. We got home about 7:00pm, made something to eat, took a shower, sat down at the computer and that was about it until bedtime.


Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Summer Solstice

Well in little more than an hour it will officially be Summertime! The longest day of the year in the Northern hemisphere. Summer arrives here today at 2:06pm EDT. What that means to a person who lives with S.A.D. (seasonal affective disorder) is that it's all downhill after today. The days get shorter and the nights longer. It really doesn't start to be an issue though until after the Autumal equinox. That's when the effects of less light start to really be noticeable. At any rate, it's summer, it's warm and sunny today and the living for the most part is easy........enjoy it while it's here and don't bitch about the occasional hot day because before you know it we'll be up to our kneecaps in that cold white shit again..........get away from the air conditioner and go's a beautiful day to take a walk on the pier, or just about anywhere else.
For more info click on the title link.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Car Show Weekend

Another summer weekend is history and it's not even officially summer yet!

I started off the weekend by getting out of work a half hour early so I could hopefully beat some of the 5 O'clock traffic home and back over the bridge and get to the Spring Lake Heritage Festival car show not too long after 5. I pulled in the parking lot at St. Mary's about 5:20 and planted myself in an open area towards the back of the lot. There was quite a turnout already there when I arrived and quite a few more showed up after my arrival. I went about setting up the showboard and scrapbook, put out a chair to sit in and then grabbed the camera and took a hike around the lot to see what I could see.

When I had made the rounds once I decided it was time for a bite to eat so I headed over to the boy scouts tent where they were selling mostly burned, fairly cold hamburgers (Yum!) with a handful of chips and a pop for 3 bucks. After I was done feasting I took another stroll around. Not long after that Wanda and Chris showed up for a visit with Belle in tow. Bonnie and Brian stopped by at the same time so we shot the breeze for a bit. About 8 or so the wife and kid headed for home. About 9 they started with the trophy presentation. Last year they'd had a 55/56/57 chevy class which I got a 2nd place trophy in, but this year that class was absent and in it's place a huge class...streetrods from 1900 to present. I had no dillusions about a trophy repeat this year. After the trophys were all handed out everyone headed for the cars and home. I took a small detour by the beach first and then came home.

Saturday was a "work" day. Slept in until I woke up and then after a quick breakfast got busy putting the bathroom cabinet and trim back together. Had to make a Home Depot run for a couple items and ended up rehanging the bathroom door too so that it worked right. It was 2 in the afternoon by the time I got all that done and was satisfied with the results. The rest of the day I just kinda wandered around the place, taking care of little things. Wanda took off with Ri to go to Bingo and Chris took off so it was just me and the furkids for the rest of the day. I spent some time waxing the hot rod for Sundays' show and played with the dogs, took a nap and before I knew it the day was over.

Sunday we (Me and Chris) got up at 6, got loaded up and by 6:20 we were on the road to Charlton park for the annual Fathers day car show. We didn't get there as early this year as last year so our spot by the river had already been taken by the time we arrived. So we kept on moving and ended up parking out on the edge of the main field behind the houses. I got registered, got the display stuff set out and then we grabbed the camera and took off to tour the grounds. It was a warm, (high 80's), and sunny day so most of the day was spent Hiking from shady area to shady area. We toured the swap meet grounds, but with no money for goodies it was kinda a waste of time.

One of the high points of the day was having the NSRA folks who sponsor the show come by and do their 23 point safety inspection on the car. It used to be they wouldn't touch a car newer than '49 and I still can't show my car in their big shows cuz it's too "new" but they've loosened up some of their rules and so after passing the inspection with flying colors I got a little NSRA sticker on my windshield.

The awards started promptly at 3 and not surprisingly we didn't win anything but the cars that did win were certainly worthy of their awards. I managed to shoot a couple of 'em during the course of the day without knowing they'd been picked for honors so I put their pics in here.

After the awards were done we headed right now, didn't hang around this year and were home just before 6:00. The rest of the day was spent doing my usual sunday night chores and before I knew it, it was past time for bed.

I've had the van up for sale the last couple weeks, parked out in front with a sign in it and ran an ad in the Tribune this past week to hopefully garner some interest but didn't get a single call. Guess it's time to spend the big bucks and put an ad out there in the trader publications. If I don't sell that thing there'll be no bike trip this year not to mention no catching up on bills. With the economy like it is in this state these days every 3rd house on the way to Charlton park seemed to have a wheeled vehicle for sale out in their front yard. It's definitely a buyers market right now. Keeping my fingers crossed for now though..I just need one buyer.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Beautiful Summer Weekend At The Compound

True to my promise of last week, I refused to stay home and fight with the plumbing this past weekend. I got out of work right at 5:00 and headed from home. Darn near didn't make it either.....coming thru Grand Haven, traffic was backed up like usual on a Friday. I was on the bike and hanging back a bit from the car in front of me, like I always do, when all of a sudden, BOOM! the car directly in front of me ran right into the back of the car in front of her. I'm not sure what the heck she was looking at but it obviously wasn't ahead....she hit the guy so hard the airbags deployed and the back window shattered. I had to get on the binders and squealed the tires a bit but other than that I was ok. My worry in those situations is always that the guy behind me ain't paying attention either and runs into me while I'm trying to avoid the moron ahead.....I pulled up along side her and asked if she was ok...she was upset and probably dazed a bit so I decided it was time to go. What a way for her weekend to start!

After that little bit of excitement I got home, loaded up the truck, grabbed the dogs and headed north. I pulled in the compound about 2 minutes after 7 and immediately got busy while Wanda made dinner. My first project was to figure out why the water wasn't working....arrrggg more plumbing problems! I took off the cap on the pump, tripped the switch and it took right off. Sounds like the switch is having issues so I called the folks responsible yesterday and they said they'd go fix or replace it. I'd opt for replace myself...fixing never seems to work quite right.

With the water on I got out the weed wacker and attacked them damn ferns until supper was ready After supper a trip up to the lodge for ice cream pretty much put the capper on the day. Once we got back to the campsite it was time for a fire and some relaxin'. I made it up till about 1am, mainly cuz I was busy looking up at a sky full of stars on a perfectly cool, clear night. Now that we have the campsite I really need to pick up a decent sized telescope.

Saturday morning I was the first one up and I piddled around the lot while the others slept. I noticed that a big limb on one of our big trees had broken off, most likely from Thursday night's high winds. So after breakfast, me and chris got the chainsaw out, got it ready and spent the next couple hours carefully cutting the branches supporting the limb, until we got it to fall to the ground. Then, it was simply a matter of cutting up the big limb into manageable pieces for the firepit.

By the time we got done with that project we were ready for a break and we all decided we'd take a little trip over to John's Produce, the place where I got the outhouse, and do a little shopping for stuff for the compound. It took awhile to get there going cross-country and we spent awhile looking at stuff so by the time we got back to camp it was midafternoon. I'd bought some washers to put in the hose that was leaking but when I went to remove it the fitting from the fixture stuck in the hose and then I had 100ft of hose and no way to attach it to one of the other outlets. (Didn't I say I wasn't going to do any plumbing this weekend??) So.....between that and needing a couple things for supper me and Chris jumped in the truck and headed for Home Depot and Meijers. By the time we got back to camp from that excusion it was 5 and we'd pretty much killed the whole afternoon running around the countryside. Needless to say not much got done at camp.

While Wanda made supper I repaired the hose and got the water situation back under control and then played some frizbee with Chris while the dogs ran back and forth between us, trying to get the disc. After a good meal I took the wife up to the lodge for ice cream and a little ride around Whiskey Creek and then it was back to camp for the evening. Another beautiful night with a sky just chock full of stars.

Sunday morning I was awakened at 6:30am by the grey ghost (Mercury) who had business to attend to so I got up, let him out and got dressed. I grabbed the leashes and me, Merc and Bailery took a longish stroll around the park while we waited for sleepy heads to wake up. By the time we got back Wanda was up so I set about making breakfast. After the usual fare of eggs, (over easy this time), Bacon and pancakes I started in on the project for the morning, new, better steps for the deck. We'd snagged some more wood from Dake more suitable for the steps so I got started by assembling the tools for the project. It took a couple hours but by late morning we had solid steps to traverse the deck with. The pics here show the old steps.....look next entry for a pic with the new ones.....

After the step project was completed I spent awhile, until it was time for the wife and Chris to head for home (1:30), with the weed wacker, putting the fear of God in ferns in Mason county. Once they were gone I decided to do something I haven't really done yet this year, kick back and relax in my little spot in the woods. I fired up the Ipod, sat down in a chair and promptly dozed off for a couple hours. Mercury and Bailey followed suit.

After the nap it was time for one more project before heading for home. I got out the big can of Thompson's Water Seal and proceeded to splash it all over the deck. It took the whole can to do the job and by the time I was done I was ready to shut down, lock up and head back to civilization. We got back to the house about 7 and spent the rest of the evening doing the usual laundry and dishes deal until the wife got home.

..and that's pretty much it for a really nice weekend. I have to remind myself that it's already damn near the middle of June and it's gonna go by quick. Seems like just last weekend I was waiting for things to turn green and now they are!
more later.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

The Joys of Home Ownership and Lying Weathermen

WARNING TO MY OLDEST DAUGHTER AND RECENT FIRST TIME HOME probably shouldn't read this one........but then again, maybe you should. Learn from my mistakes and that way you can make your own.
Well, here it was, coming up on the first weekend in June and as frequently is the case, the weatherman was predicting lousy weather for the upcoming weekend. That fact, coupled with the fact that I'd spent the last 4 weekends, at least in some part, up at the compound, made me decide to stay around the house and get some things tackled that have been needing tackling for awhile now. Specifically, the bathtub fixtures and pipes going from the tub to the great outdoors. We not only had a leak on the hot water side of the fixtures, but also a very slow drain at the tub which resulted in a need to turn off the hot water when not using it for showers, dishes or laundry. Decidedly a pain in the ole butt to go downstairs to turn on and off the hot water, but the real capper was the slow drain on top of the leak.....if you turned on the hot water to take a shower by the end of the bathing process you'd have water lapping at your upper ankle region. Not a big problem for the men in the family, but women tend to see things differently, so with that for incentive and son-in-law Adam for major help, we started the project early Saturday morning.
The first thing to do was get the cupboard, shelves, whatever, that were in the way when it came to removing the bathtub fixtures, out of the way. That took me a good hour or two to remove all the trim, supports and the 600 nails that whoever built the damn thing felt it needed to keep it from falling into the basement. By the time I had the unit out of the way Adam (and Ri and new puppy) had arrived so I turned the wrench over to him and he started in removing the old fixtures. After several hours he had everything but the shower portion installed. At that point I decided it was time to remove the pipes downstairs and find out what was clogging up the drain. We removed the pipes from directly by the tub and found the normal amount of corrosion you'd find after 50+ years in any pipe, but nothing that would clog up water. So, while Adam went back upstairs to continue on with the fixtures I decided to go the next step and remove the 400lb steel pipe that ran from the tub area to the main. At this point a project which was going quite well went quite bad thanks to yours truly......
Not considering my own strength (yeah right) and the age of the main casting, I started to twist on the pipe to break it loose. It was only a minute into the operation when there was a crack noise. Without looking I was pretty sure I'd just made more trouble for myself than I wanted to deal with.......what had happened was that the main casting where the pipe fed in cracked and broke into 2 pieces. So, my joy in having the pipe removed AND finding the item in the pipe that had caused the water backup was tempered by a couple of pieces of cast iron in my hand.
So, We headed off for the hardware store to see what they had in the way of adhesives for cast iron. Not a big choice to pick from, but there was one that seemed to fill the bill, supposedly it had glued a cracked engine block back together and the motor ran, so we paid the man and headed back for home. At that point it was time for Adam to head for work so the project was stalled at that point until Sunday morning when he would return. The good news at this point though was there was no longer any leak to contend with so it was possible to turn the hot water on and LEAVE it on. A luxury at that point. So, with everyone leaving me, I spent my first SUNNY Saturday evening in June at home running the dishwasher and washing machine all evening, getting rid of the piles stationed at both appliances.
Sunday the Fetts and their new chocolate Lab puppy arrived and Adam got right with the program, finishing up the installation of the tub fixtures. Once that was completed we headed back downstairs to tackle my little ooops. We mixed up the glue conglomeration and spread it liberally all over the casting and the pieces. It took awhile to get everything in there like we wanted but eventually it was all one piece and the only thing left to do was to wait the prescribed 48 hours for this stuff to dry and adhere itself to the cast iron. By then it was time for everyone to leave me again so I again spent my SUNNY Sunday evening doing more laundry and general clean-up.
At this point we've got the 48 hours in pretty much for the glue to cure and now it's just a matter of hooking things back up and replacing the 400lb steel pipe with a piece of PVC. With any luck at all we should be able to get things back together without breaking the casting again and be able to take a shower without feeling like we're standing in a wading pool. Cross your fingers......
At this point it also goes without saying, but I will anyhow.....I'm going up to the compound this coming weekend NO MATTER what the damn weatherman says.....if it rains I'll catch up on my sleep, or put on a rain poncho and hike thru the woods, but I ain't working on the house again for awhile. I've done enough damage for the time being. I'd much rather fire up the chain saw and cut some wood or do some ground maintenance at the compound than wrestle with plumbing ANY day of the week.
My definition of RICH = having enough cash laying around to be able to afford to pay someone to do whatever needs to be done...that you don't want to do.