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

March 3, 2009

Big Wood, Broken Back, Dangerous Chemicals and Oodles of Icky Oil…

Filed under: Biodiesel,Yard — Tags: , , , , , — gary @ 6:24 pm
We’re working on a new raised bed (as previously mentioned), honey bees are coming soon, and I just acquired almost 200 gallons of used vegetable oil that I’d like to brew into biodiesel (most of the oil is in JnX’s garage at present)…More on this soon, and I mean soon, not a month and a half from now as happened with January’s post…

Update: 4/7/2009 – Well, hmmm…I guess I let an entire month slip by and now there is more to tell then there is time to tell it, but let me at least get started…We’re heading out to dinner with JnX here shortly, but perhaps I cover the past month or so in brief.

Way back at the end of February we had a weird sun break and got a couple of days of work in out in the yard, so I took advantage of the opportunity to start working on the new raised bed. It became very clear very quickly that the broken concrete I had on hand from the removal of the sidewalk in the back yard a couple of years ago would not be sufficient to complete the job so I started scouring Craig’s List for additional concrete or alternatives to fill in the gaps. As it turns out someone had felled a gigantic cottonwood, and I mean gigantic, and had a pile of logs, rounds, and slag they wanted removed so we drove by to take a look. Maya did a little research on the burnability of cottonwood, so I contacted the guy and figured at a minimum I could get the bigger rounds that were already cut (and use those as part of the raised bed) and then snag some additional fire wood for J. of JnX since their fireplace is their only source of heat and J. didn’t have much luck finding a boat for winter fishing to augment a mediocre summer salmon season, so I figured anything for free would be good. I so terribly underestimated the weight of these rounds. Each one weighed at least as much as I do, and as previously mentioned many days/weeks have been spent recovering from the lifting, rolling and placing process. There is a picture of these monsters in their final position in the previous post, and here’s another picture of them in the back of the truck when only half of the damage to my body had been done…

I'll admit, getting them in the truck was much more difficult since I just let them roll right out onto the driveway when we got home...

To get them out of the truck? Just roll 'em out and let 'em bounce down the driveway (I did set up a cinder block to keep them from crushing my truck canopy)

So, even though the lifting was done at this point, the process of rolling them out of the truck into the driveway and then rolling them back to their final resting place was a long slow wrestling match betwixt the logs and I. I won in the end, I think, but although they are called rounds, that is a disasterous overstatement and generalization of their actual shape. The path from the back of the truck to the new bad had as many zigs and sags as a saw blade, but in a much less uniform distribution. The rains that followed this activity were not altogether welcomed despite the fact that in the end they probably granted a much needed reprieve for healing of the muscles and joints to prepare me for the final concrete wrestling match which was required to complete the wall around the new bed.

Craig’s List is wonderous, and dangerous, and tonight after I get back from dinner I’ll discuss some of the hazards inherent to a giant list of stuff from the entire region that you might not realize you want until you encounter it somewhat by accident…

Update 4/8/2009: After dinner we enjoyed the spate of nice weather by having a fire out back in which we burned the remnants of the gigantic dead rosemary we had pulled out over the weekend. We’re not sure if it died from old age, the really nasty winter, or my incursions into its bed chasing morning glory root the past couple of years, but we needed the space for the new location of the yet to be moved chicken coop and the rosemary was clearly not rebounding this year as it had in years past. Apparently many, many years past as we were able to burn the dead branches for a couple hours. Hence, I did not return to this post the other night, and probably shouldn’t have today in favor of starting a new post, but alas, here we are…

Actually, this went on too long, so I changed my mind and will continue it in the next post.

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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