Gary Digs Tales of the holes I dig, the dirt piles I make, and the holes I fill at the B-Bar-Lazy-B

June 16, 2009

Pile O’ $h!t, Pie Transportation, and Hair Weave on the Loose…

Filed under: Eating,General,Humanity,Recreation,Tools,Yard — Tags: , , , , , , , — gary @ 2:56 pm

Pile O’ $h!t:

Apparently it has been 2 months since I wrote the Homeresque blog post about the truck designed to rival Tolstoi in verbosity. You can imagine I needed a long hard rest after that blogging odyssey, and honestly, I don’t feel like I’ve gotten that long hard rest, but alas, I will blog again regardless. The whole thing would probably be a lot easier if I just blogged a little every couple of days instead of bundling a couple months worth of news into a single post. The bundling puts too much distance between me and some of the more significant events of the past 2 months, enough distance that any rendering of those events would seem too contrived and contemplated to have any real value. As such, we’re going to skip the most important stuff and stick to the most entertaining stuff, so put your finger on the scroll wheel and let us begin…

Maya recently encountered a post on Craig’s List by a tree service company offering to deliver wood chips free of charge with a 4 cubic yard minimum. Perfect, we happened to be in the market for a boat load of mulch to finish our comprehensive lawn removal project, so after some foot dragging on my part we gave them a ring. They said they would have about 8 cubic yards and asked how much of it we would like. “Sure, bring us what ya’ got. We’ll take it…” I said figuring we could easily spread 8 cubic yards of mulch. No problem at all.  ‘8 yards will be a perfect start’, I thought to myself when I hung up the phone. Keep in mind, I do have some idea of what a cubic yard looks like having hauled in several of them for filling the holes that I dig. A couple of years ago we had 15 cubic yards of soil delivered for the largest raised bed in the back yard, so I felt like half of that quantity was easily managable. Then they arrived…

In my estimation we ended up with about 20 cubic yards (Maya says 24, so perhaps it is somewhere in between), nevertheless, it was not 8. Nowhere near 8. A whole $h!tload more than 8. It filled the entire driveway (almost, kind of, ok, not the entire driveway, but the entire part of the driveway in which Maya parks, not the part that is ordinarily occupied by my truck canopy and other non-essential goods for which no other suitable location can be found). The funniest thing about the pile was the fact that several visitors shortly after the arrival of the pile expressed an acknowledgment of the pile’s presence in exactly the same phrase: “You have a big pile of $h!t in your driveway.” they would announce in an informative manner as they arrived. We kindly let them know we were aware of the pile and had a certain fondness and actual intention to utilize the pile and that no impending catastrophe should be assumed by the presence of the pile. Maya’s mother was really disturbed by the pile from an aesthetic perspective and inspired me once again to appreciate the fact that in Skyway no one is going to sweat the big pile of mulch in your driveway regardless of how many weeks it sits there. It is simply the case that around here there are matters of much greater importance than whether or not someone is fast or slow about their mulching procedings.

I had a picture of the original pile, but my fancy fricken’ phone decided it needed to mysterious reset back to factory defaults and I lost the pictures, so all I have is this one of the portion of the pile that remains in our driveway oh so many weeks later:

The remains of the giant pile in our driveway

The remains of the giant pile in our driveway

The original pile extended to the right hand edge of the above picture and just past the left hand edge as well as spanning the entire width of the driveway. The other somewhat irritating thing about the pile is that it consisted more of pine needles than anything else. No problem we thought, we spread it in the areas where plants are already accustomed to acidic soils (or where we don’t want plants anyway) and the rains of late May and June should help break them down as to prevent creating a giant fire hazard out of our entire yard. We have now gone 28 days without any measurable rainfall. Should this continue for another full day we will have beat the record (for this time of year, whatever that means, but weathermen need to report something, so I guess that is how records like that get created) set back in 1982. I will spread part of the remaining stuff in a final layer around the back yard where the previous three layers have been sufficiently trompled (along our main walking paths), and the balance I will take to A.’s house (A. doesn’t live terribly far from here and is in Maya’s permaculture class and we met her at a SURF Co-op meeting before that class began). So, soon enough the pile will be resolved. The biggest hurdle being clearing the back of the truck and actually pulling the canopy off again (I’m pretty sure it won’t sit in the driveway for 2 years again, but we’ll see).

Pie Transportation:

As fate would have it, Maya had permaculture class on the same day that she was slated to provide food for her cousin K.’s college graduation party way out in North Bend, Washington which is about a thousand miles from here (or it might be 35, somewhere in there). Maya’s class got out at 5:30pm and the festivities were slated to begin at 6pm (which those of us who had previously graduated from UW and had to sit through and escape from the ceremony at Maya’s mother’s behest, knew was a farce since it easily takes an hour just to get out of the stadium and off campus with the droves of humans and automobiles overwhelming the area following the event), but nonetheless, the food had to be delivered, prepared and presentable prior to the previously determined start time. As such, the task had to be assigned to the person least capable of completing it successfully…me. Why am I the person least capable of completing the task successfully? Well, for starters I have a very fuzzy conception of time and an even fuzzier conception of arbitrary deadlines (note, I recognize a real deadline, but most deadlines I consider arbitrary at best). It is also the fact that I generally lack the motor skills appropriate to carrying, mixing and handling large quantities of food (and really you should have seen the mess I made attempting to mix the 42 lbs of tabouli Maya prepped for the event). But, safe and secure transportation of 7 rhubarb and blackberry pies (which ended up being 9)  was the only part of the task that truly frightened me.

I have failed in the past at transporting exactly this type of pie, and the sadness that befell Maya when I arrived with a broken crust and spilled filling haunts me to the day. Having a deep desire to not repeat the crust breaking filling spilling heart break I had previously deliver upon the woman I love, I set my mind to conquering through technology the pie delivery obstacle which layed before me. I needed to develop a comprehensive pie transportation solution, and I only had a week to do it. So, I spent 5 days thinking about it, and then started working on the solution the day before I needed to have it done. Whilst working on it the number of pies increased and Maya detected a near fatal design flaw which resulted in some last minute adjustments (for the design flaw, not the number of pies, I had already accomodated 8 pies in the design and figure putting one floating pie at risk was far better than starting over and working toward a 10 pie solution). The challenging aspects were to utilize existing materials (specifically existing materials not likely to be useful to any other project in the near future) and to make sure that my design could accommodate both the small aluminum pie tins being utilized for this event and the larger ones that might be required for some future event. I got the inital frame work assembled, glued, nailed and cured and had a solid design to work with after the first day. So during the day of the event I finished off the pie transportation devices and managed to still get out to the event in time to set up the food (with the help of Maya’s Dad and K.’s boyfriend). Also, J.’s arrival just before I completed the second device played heavily into my success as he offered to wrap the pies while I showered and changed to get ready to leave the house (about an hour and forty-five minutes later than I had originally intended to leave, but this ended up being fortuitous for reasons I am not willing to discuss at this time). And so, I present to you, the CPTS (Comprehensive Pie Transportation Solution) as it appeared filled and loaded into the Super-Cab of the previously discussed Bio-Beast of an F250 that I drive:

Comprehensive Pie Transportation Solution

Comprehensive Pie Transportation Solution

Primarily constructed of fir trim removed from our house 4.5 years ago during our massive remodel (and since that time floating around the shed in a huge unweildy mass to be moved to and fro whenever we need to get to something), the CPTS fit the bill with relatively little sliding, no breakage, and most importantly no spillin’ o’ the fillin’. But, I’m really hoping the day we have to transport 12 pies is in the very far future because I am not at all looking forward to the hassle of making another one of these (a lot of awkward corners to wedge the little electric tack nailer into and oh so many little cuts and clamps and frustrations along the way).

Hair Weave on the Loose:

On the day after Maya’s cousin K.’s graduation festivities J. (formerly of JnX) and I took Huxley on a micro walk over to the mini-mart (so I could buy smokes) and to Nevzat’s esspresso drive through (so I could get a dose of my other ‘eine). The mini market is right next to an action packed little bar in our neighborhood that has experienced more than it’s share of massive law enforcement interventions and county sherriff helicopter hooverings. At 2am each weekend we can hear relationships coming to an end as the bar let’s out and final determinations of the relationship status are loudly resolved in the parking lot. So, it was highly entertaining, but not terribly surprising when we found this:

The remains of the night as it were, a portion of a hair weave left trompled and abandoned in the parking lot...

The remains of the night as it were, a portion of a hair weave left trompled and abandoned in the parking lot...

The picture is blurry, but suffice it to say that is a portion of someone’s “Weave“. The picture of the intense “chick fight” that resulted in this aftermath, as well as the words that must have been exchanged at the time, were immediately apparent to J. and I. Fortunately J. had his phone with him and was able to capture this priceless photo. But, wait for it…after I got my smokes and we crossed the parking lot to visit Nevzat’s espresso stand, I thought it would be funny to point the unwoven “Weave” out to him. His response:

“Oh yeah, I saw it this morning when I arrived. EVERY WEEKEND there is one,” and his eyes got really big, “sometimes a whole head of hair out in that parking lot…”

J. and I both almost fell to the ground laughing. This wasn’t a special occassion, I just usually fail to get over to the mini-mart and the espresso stand early enough in the day to see the aftermath of the Skyway weekend nights. So, if you’re looking for your next viral video to post on You Tube, drop me a note and I’ll direct you to a suitable location to set up your night vision camera on a Skyway Saturday night to capture what is apparently the regular sacrafice of the “Weave” that happens here on the hill. This fact makes me realize that each weekend we are probably hearing both the end and the beginning of some relationship out there in the parking lot as to the victor go the spoils and who ever inspired such conflict is not likely going home with the girl who just lost her “Weave” in the parking lot. Just a guess though, now I’m talking out my a$$, so I’ll bring it to a close and wish you well ’til next I bang this keyboard into temporary submission.

December 14, 2008

On the whole…

I suck…

because I haven’t writen a well thought out post in quite a while. My Dad was in town over Thanksgiving weekend, and that was a blast. It’s the first time he has made it out here from Dead Rock, MT since we bought the house, so it was a long anticipated visit. He spent some much needed quality time on the couch with his grand-puppy (Huxley) and met his grand-chickens (the girls) for the first time. We went to the Boeing Museum of Flight and to the EMP together which were both pretty cool. We thoroughly enjoyed an outstanding Philipino dinner at Kawali Grill (just south of Columbia City proper) the night before he left (oh dear oh my, can you say lumpia and crispy pork belly?), and then I spent Sunday afternoon and evening playing catch-up on the work for the week, but it was well worth it.

I also ran across this recently: www.lincvolt.com which is just super cool. If they can currently get of 60 mph out of this beautiful heavy old son of a … well, there’s hope for a much more efficient F250 somewhere in the future (which I’ll be able to afford a decade and a half after it comes out, or when I win the lottery).

In other news…well, I’m kind of ashamed to say it, but I have a MySpace page. Let me explain…

I originally set it up just to poke around at their API, since I occassionally see Craigslist gigs for developing MySpace and FaceBook apps. I figured it was worth at least checking out to get an idea as to whether or not this is something I might pursue in a time of need (which fortunately hasn’t arrived yet). Well, Maya has a MySpace page and keeps in touch with a friend of hers in Louisiana via that to some degree and I added this friend of Maya’s to my friends on MySpace. Little did I know I would soon be invited to join here Mob as part of a game called, well of course, Mobsters, and now I have found an inappropriate venue for idle time that feeds my very minor case of OCD quite well. So, some of my time has fallen into this black hole of mild entertainment value (there is a touch of strategy to the game, but it is basically just a series of apparently unending levels of acquisition and whacking other mobsters). Anyway, I figured I better out myself over this whole MySpace thing before someone else does. I’m on FaceBook too, which has actually been pretty nice as I have gotten some updates on very old friends and acquaintences from many various chapters in my life…I look down the list and realize it truly has been a long strange trip…

Also in the past few weeks I developed a crush on Annie of at Edifice Rex when she posted this splendid rant about consumer culture on the heels of yet another Black Friday trampling at a stinking WalMart. If you are so eager to get into a WalMart that you are willing to sacrifice someone else’s life to celebrate the birth of you’re stinking christ, well you probably deserve a ong painful crucifixion of your own, and if your god does exist I hope he punishes you forthrightly for your trespasses. I suspect I’ll have to make a bumper sticker for this one…”Jesus cries everytime you trample a WalMart employee to celebrate his birthday…“, you heard it here first, but I’ll probably have to take the WalMart part out to avoid a lawsuit (even though I should be covered under Fair Use for both parody and political speech, but hey, given the current supreme court line up, why risk it).

That’s not everything there is to say right now, but at least it is something, and I’ll jump back when my thoughts are a bit more orderly…

October 19, 2008

Ummm…I almost wet myself…

Filed under: Politics,Recreation — Tags: , , , — gary @ 8:11 am

First, you must follow this link.

and a very special thanks to M&M Incremental Updates for making my Sunday morning with that link.

September 1, 2008

Always take the map…

Filed under: Recreation — Tags: , , , , , , , , — gary @ 5:45 pm

So, it would be inaccurate to say we were lost…

At any given moment, we knew the way home, we just didn’t know how to get where we wanted to go. As I mentioned previously some horrible crap happened to Maya’s car during a middle of the night hit-and-run (it was parked curbside, more on that at Eighth Acre Bounty). One of the results of the  glancing impact which terminated at Maya’s driver’s side rim (based on the available evidence), was of course, the bending of the rim (and an arm and a knuckle, on the car, we were in bed, so don’t get confused with all those anatomical terms referring to car parts). Maya called a wrecking yard not terribly far away and found out they have more rims than they knew what to do with and would be happy to sell her one that would fit her car perfectly for a relatively reasonable amount of money. All we had to do was get there…in the truck, which was well into the last quarter of the second tank…shouldn’t be a problem, the yard isn’t far, we’re going right there and coming right back (maybe stop by the big box wholesale to the public membership joint that happens to have their headquarters here in Washinton and is not at all affiliated with Sam Walton and his crew to get a tire put on the shiny new used rim we were picking up).

Here is the path from the 167 that we should have taken to get to the wrecking yard (here forward we will refer to this as the “Ideal” path):

what an elegant path it would have been

what an elegant path it would have been

As we were gathering ourselves together to walk out the door I asked “Do you have a map?” Maya responded with strength and confidence, “No, we shouldn’t need it, it is just off the 167 and I have some directions.” We were running a bit behind schedule (most likely my fault), so I bit hard and deep into my tongue to keep it quiet and sized myself up tough for the inevitable mild confusion that usually occurs when we try and give eachother directions while driving.

Brief digression…I’ve been driving off and on now for about 2 decades, but I still don’t like not knowing where I’m going if I have to actually get somewhere. I like maps, I like to look at them and at least get the false sense of security they can grant you with their magical bird’s eye view of the intrepid landscape of the region into which you are about to journey. If I don’t have to be anywhere, then I don’t care so much. If the only requirement is that I make it home sometime and I don’t have to worry about anyone in the passenger seat getting impatient about the destination, then I can wander aimlessly without end and actually be mildly entertained by the journey. This was not one of those trips, particular with some concerns about the fuel level lingering in the background.

Nonetheless, having been assured of our success by Maya’s strong and confident utternce indicating that a map would be a frivolous and worthless additional effort and delay of departure for which she would have no tolerance, we pointed the truck south and began our “quick errand” to the wrecking yard and perhaps the big box wholesale to the public place that happens to be headquartered here in Washington and has no affiliation with Sam Walton where Maya had fairly recently bought an entire set of new tires, where we could find a perfect replacement for the now seriously damaged front driver’s side tire and they would enthusiastically put the single tire on our brand new used rim.

We accomplished all these goals that day…I believe we left the house about 2pm and no reason to expect to be gone more than say, oh an hour and a half, perhaps 2 if we ran up against a long line to get the new tire. It was almost 6pm when we did get home…

The path less traveled, less elegant, and rather frustrating as well...

The path less traveled, less elegant, and rather frustrating as well...

Parenthetically I should mention that I have made almost this exact same trip several times in several different neighborhoods around and about the Seattle area, so Maya’s culpability here is minimal at best. Even with the map, there are times when one wrong turn in the earliest moments of the process of retrieving some item listed on Craig’s List will result in a doubling or tripling of the length and time of the estimated duration and mileage of that particular retrieval…that being said…

To this point I have failed to mention another variable in this equation of doom that I only fully began to appreciate toward the end of our trip after seeing the needle of my fuel gauge dipping very close to the bottom of the red area (keep in mind, of course, that despite the extraordinary use of fuel and energy involved in driving the F-250 all over the greater Kent, WA region, the trip was carbon nuetral since I’m running the ol’ summertime B99.9 or 99.9% biodiesel for the uninitiated). That night we also needed to pick up a friend from the airport that night. Maya had taken this friend, who we will call W., to the airport a few days earlier in W’s little Ford Ranger which is infinitely more agile and fuel efficient than my F-250.

So, taking the Ranger to the airport would have been the best thing to do (and taking the Ranger on this trip might have been wise as well), if it weren’t for the fact that Maya was suffering some sort of pervasive automotive curse that week and noticed as she left the airport that W’s “check engine” light was lit. Since they made the first trip to the airport at some unholy hour prior to 8pm (or Gary’s dawn as I sometimes call it, afterall, does the sun really rise if I’m not there to see it?), Maya didn’t know whether the light had been on the entire time or if it had just come on that morning. Since the automotive curse seemed to be looming large, my truck appeared to be the best option despite the imminent close shave indicated by the fuel gauge (I pretty much always push my luck in a continuing effort to discover just how far I can go on a couple tanks of fuel, even though I really, really shouldn’t given that running a diesel dry is a lot more difficult to recover from than running a gas engine dry, from what I’ve read). What I have discovered about the truck, is that it has a very, very deep empty (which I was kind of able to ascertain fairly early on by comparing the amount of fuel I could stuff into it against the advertised tank sizes).

As harrowing as all that sounds, it worked out. We did get Maya’s rim, and her tire, and found out that her warranty would cover the damage to the tire and that we would get to come back with the damaged tire for a partial refund from the big box wholesale to the public store with their headquarters here in Washington that is not affiliated with Sam Walton and has become somewhat famous for the delicious polish dogs you can eat after you’ve wiped yourself out buying 32 gallons of mayonaise and a metric butt-load of triscuits. We also learned from W that the check engine light itself had been diagnosed as problematicly stuck on despite no actual condition to check (I didn’t mention the check engine light on the way back from the airport, I figured Maya saw it, she could report it, and I’m still a bit suspicious of the bad check engine light diagnosis that W was given, but it’s not my truck and not exactly my place to say so…not that that usually stops me, but it did that night, probably because I was tired).

Maya’s car is all fixed and aside from a little bit of a catch in her steering and us losing positive control over Maya’s tire and allowing it to sneak away from us rolling about a block down the street toward a busy intersection where an electrical crew working for the county to change out the traffic signals has been parking their vehicles and where by good fortune they happened to have finished parking the vehicles at the time of the tire incident which left them available to intercept the rolling menace prior to any gory traffic disaster it may have exacted at the end of our street (I had leaned it into the wheel well while we were rotating the old one in the back to the front to replace the donut spare and then put the brand new one on the back, this worked alright until we jacked the car up and it evidently jumped out of the wheel well of its own volition), this story has come to an end and depite how confident, strong, or irritated Maya may be when she says “we shouldn’t need the map”, I will insist that we print the map prior to departure unless I absolutely know exactly where we are going (or she is driving, in which case she can skip the map if she wishes and I’ll enjoy the ride)…

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