New entry in my Kilt blog 9/21/2011

Showing newest 15 of 18 posts from April 2010. Show older posts
Showing newest 15 of 18 posts from April 2010. Show older posts

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Critters

There is no such thing as an ordinary day. - Jim Goodwin
I agree but what do you call it when everyday is like this. I found this lady watching me from the back of my router. I know it's a girl because of the eye shadow. I know eye shadow these days is not gender specific but look at those eyes. No guy has eyes like that.

Whilst I was head down in some chili plants I have next to the sage bush I would hear this buzzing. It took me a while but I finally found it. It appears this sage blossom is eating this bee. After a while however the bee backed out like a thief in the night and went on to further burglarizing other blossoms. It was all very sexy. Huh, is this the bee part in the "birds and the bees"?
On a killing rampage this morning I chanced on this traveler. I wasn't killing snakes so we past salutations such as they were and went on about our business. I was spraying "agent orange"(round up) on the vegetation in the background. It's poison oak.
Yesterday was a regular run to the store for consumables. I don't know what I did before this bike. It only has about 70 pounds on. I stopped piling it on because I got tired of shopping not because the bike was full. It was a great ride empty and loaded but it was too short.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Old Fools Journal: The Shed

That little building on the back of the porch is the object of my affection.

On several occasion I have revealed the innards of "the shed" sometimes referred to as the laboratory, the inner-sanctum annex, the bike shop, the werks, the shop or the catastrophe. In my mind it is just "the shed". You'd think that with as much time as I spend there that I would improve it some but I think that the fact that I don't have to is part of the romance. It is a place of mystery and fascination for everyone including myself (like where is that left handed monkey wrench or the metric pliers). Projects are started and then left unfinished until I forget what the original thought was. They will still be there when I remember. Some are finished. SWMBO (she who must be obeyed) will not go in there easily.

Seems I've always had a shed of some sort as far back as when I was around 14 years old (1953). In those days my family had a tar paper shack used for a storage shed in back of the house on the edge of the woods. I appropriated a corner of it, built a crude bench and set up shop. Working on motor scooters and motorcycles in the house was unpopular with my mom. It was the oil spills you know. I had a construction smudge pot that I acquired (swiped) somewhere that was my light and heat. It was inadequate for both. It was miserable but I have many fond memories of working in that shed.

I have used store rooms, closets, camper shells, travel trailers, a lean-to and tents as "a shed" over the years. This shed started as a well built 12 X 12 foot (3.66 X3.66 m) free standing structure at the back of a car port. The carport became a back porch and the shed grew. It now has two additions, one on the back for general household storage and one on the side for generators, extra bicycles and misc. I will probably add more. George Carlin said "for happiness surround yourself with the stuff you love" (as I remember it) so I do but I need more room because there is a lot of stuff I love.
I built this little addition last year to shelter the very things you see there. The door is a project I started last summer and will complete, I hope, this summer. Things you see here are in use. They come and they go. Hidden behind is another door to another general storage shed. I built that too. Behind that is a fence I call the bone yard. It's where I store old junk and where I go to pee on the World. The anvil on the left is the home of the future blacksmith shop under "the shade of the spreading chestnut tree" only in this case the tree is live oak.

Often I go to the shed to do nothing. I'll turn on music, sweep up and perhaps tidy up a bit but I'm really there to let my mind roam free. I have a 50 year (or so) old wooden folding chair that I seldom use but when I do Suzy, the number one dog in the pack, comes in and does nothing with me. It does not bother her if I listen to blue grass music, pick my nose, have peanut butter on my breathe or fart. She is not offended if I don't pay attention to her she is just happy to be there.

This video of the inner sanctum is amateurish but then I am a amateur in everything I do.
Suzy, the big red dog is the star, Sparkle Plenty is the wiener dog. Her job is to hassle snakes under the house.
Please never mind the damned noisy birds.


Music by

Monday, April 26, 2010

Old Fools Journal: First Propane Run

I have made a dozen or so trips to the stores on the cargo bike without incident I'm happy to say however today's chore was to fetch propane. No problems. I offset the lopsided load with a box of that wonderful nector "Chianti" that all by itself justifies Italy's existence. Then there is "Sophia Loren" which is way over the top. It was enough to not need the extra prop.

The filled bottle weighs 38 pounds (17 kilos) and wine about 11 pounds (5 kilos) so the load wasn't much but I didn't want to complicate matters by loading up on this first lopsided trip. The homemade side loaders worked very good. The only issues on this 80 degree, sunny and light wind day had to do with the seat and rear brake. It was a nice ride of only about 3 miles round trip but I sure got a lot of second looks. I guess it's not everyday you see a extra long bike going down the road carrying a propane tank.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Old Fools Journal: A Proper Basket

I picked this wall hanging basket up at a thrift store a while back just for this purpose. It's strong, tightly woven and already the right color. It's not quite as big as I wanted but for 75 cents I can live with that.

First I had to take the carrying, wall hanging hoop off. Fortunately it is not structural and the wrapping is completely separate from the rest so nothing had to be done to keep it from unraveling.
The wire basket, which is detachable and has a carrying handle, is really fugly. I also need a bag in it if I want to carry small items. I pick up things along the roadway such as wheel weights (over a pound last summer), bolts (they have become worth more than finding money) and other odds and ends (tools, emblems, rope, etc).Now that's a proper basket that suits the bike. I attached it with commercial grade black zip ties that have a tensil strength of 75 pounds (34k). I don't think I'll exceed that. The handle bar bag I made from a thrift store purse is strapped on the folding basket now. It was formerly hanging in the front basket. I can't hang it on the back of the handlebars as it interferes with the stem mounted friction shift levers.My combination walking stick, alternate kick stand and dog ball mallet needed a bracket of some sort so exercising the KISS rule I zip tied a vienna sausage can to the front fork made a rubber band from an old inner tube for the top (those inner tubes uses keep going up). If it works out in practice I may even paint the can. This is one of the walking sticks/canes I made from live oak that turned out to be perfect for stabilizing this bike and the cargo bike when loading heavy or lopsided. It is a rare occasion that I need a cane but I like to have one when walking or riding because ankle biting dogs and other ratty type things (people) are allowed to roam free here and it gives me a little more reach when it becomes attitude adjustment time. I have to give the neighborhood bogs credit they learn quick. They still make as much noise but they give me a lot of room.

The bike's weight with all this stuff is now 47 pounds. I lost a couple of pounds changing the basket. It feels pretty nimble to me and it is versatile.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Happy Earth Day from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig

Drill baby drill! We will have oil no matter what the cost. Even if it kills us.

This rig has been inspected and it's perfectly safe so they say. Well it is now as it has gone the way of Atlantis but we haven't heard the last of it yet. And there is not a damn thing we can do about it except file law suits which has begun already.

The state park south of here is still closed to swimming due to pollution. It's waters are full of fat crab but I wouldn't eat them. Oh yeah our shrimp come from out there too.
Do I sound pissed off? Drill Baby Drill! Why not hold a gun to my head while drilling as well. Think I'll have a cocktail until my hands stop shaking.
Look here.

Old Fools Journal: Grow Something

Not to be outdone by Girl on Bike I want to show the bounty from my garden too. This young lady is not only an artist that grows stuff but she is a hell of a forager as well.
Anyway here is my bounty with a promise of more. We planted two asparagus beds summer before last and I have waited impatiently for them to start producing. They pushed up one or three spindly stalks the first year which I gobbled up grazing in the garden. Last summer even with my grazing we still had enough for a side dish. This year they are producing enough to have asparagus a couple of times a week I think. That is if I can keep from eating them in the garden. These grew in 2 days and with those we had from the two days before there was enough for a side dish last night.
This sage was planted four years ago and has become quite large. The photo does not do justice to those purplish flowers. We never want for sage. I had a small piece of calf liver smothered in sage for breakfast this morning. Sometimes I just grab a couple of leaves and rub them on my hand because it smells so good. One of the neighborhood hoodlums when introduced to the plant said "it smells like breakfast".
Promise of bounty to come. Photo of Roma Tomatoes in the tomato jail. These produce early and fast.

So grow something. At least get a starter herb of some kind. Most people can not grow all they eat but they can at least grow a little. I used to think that I could not grow all I eat but if I eat less and grow more I probably can. But that's a lot of work.

Here is a starter plan. Buy a starter herb of some kind in as big a starter pot as you can find. I like Basil because I use it with tomatoes. Get some seed of the same thing and some potting soil. I like Miraclegro it's expensive but I only use it to start seed and when transplanting so a little goes a long way. Cut off a milk or juice jug and plant. Now you have an example of what you planted and the chance to see seed turn into that.

Dollar General sells 10 pound bags of potting soil and 99cent seed. If you punch holes in one side of the bag and lay that side on the ground then put some holes in the top, plant seed, water and wait.

Mint is fun too. A small mint starter and cheap cat litter box will turn into a lot of mint (it will spread all over that box) and it smells good. Don't forget to punch holes in the bottom of the box so excess water will drain and don't forget to water. You might not want to set this on something that will be damaged by water.

Gin over ice cubes in a tall glass with mint. Mmm good. Two and you'll take off all your clothes. Three and you might start barking at cars.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Do You Play?

Why yes I do. Are you any good? Yesno. Good enough for me but I doubt the general public would think so. In fact, I doubt I would impress any real musician. My grandson owns most of these and he plays more at 16 than I ever did.

The violin case has a violin that my dad had was given in 1937. He was in the high school orchestra with my Aunt Wanda. It has a date inside of 1849.

The trumpet case has a very mellow coronet in it. New Orleans mellow. I wonder how many drugs have been breathed through it.

In case anyone cares and I know some do I have been doing chores, trying to make a video for your enjoyment and this. We have small house but we require a music space.

This isn't all. There are several kazoos, harmonicas, another uke, jews harp, a 1950's chord organ and other misc. There are always several gallon jugs if you happen to be the oral type and I hope you are.

The B25 Gibson on the right I bought in 1967. I still don't play it worth a crap but my grandson does and it's his when I depart for the great banjo and fiddle contest in the sky (as a spectator).

I have a concert Ukulele with some expensive Italian strings that's my favorite and there is this roll up battery operated piano that's straight out of STAR TREK that I like. With it you can play piano while eating at MacDonald's. When rolled up and in the bag it's about the size of a small takeout bag. Wait a minute, there is no such thing as a small takeout bag as I remember. I am not expert in this field as I have not seen the inside of a fast food place in two years. Withdrawal doesn't bother me at all or at all or at all. Hmmm

The video didn't work out but the garden is and I need to show it. Soon.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Is This The Human Condition or What?

Pay attention to this guy. He sees.

And he rides a bicycle.

I am happy to say that this is no longer me. I accept whatever comes and deal with it. Now if I could just get SWMBO to accept it.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Oak Snow

Oak snow is pollen and has carpeted the areas under the live oak trees. It is reported that we are getting a record amount this year. The picture above is of a path swept with a broom by SWMBO out to the garden. Normally this area is all white shell.
You can see it drifted up on the garbage can. Four days ago it was 3 inches deep on my car. Sorry but I didn't get a picture of that. It seems to have stopped snowing so much as the wind has been really exercising or (is that exorcising) the trees. Either way most of the pollen demons have been driven to the ground. I don't have much in the way of allergies but some here are being driven bats by this stuff.
If reminds me of Lahaina snow which is the black ash from the burning of the stubble in the cane fields around Lahaina, Maui after harvest. It used to pile up on my boat when the wind would blow offshore.

The day these pictures were taken 32 years ago the wind was light and blowing toward the mountain but somehow some of that black mess worked its way upwind and got us anyway.

It didn't seem like paradise when that stuff was falling.

Imagine my surprise when Lahaina snow started falling here. You see they burn the sugar cane stubble here too. It had to travel several miles but it got us.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Cooking Navy Beans

This is not a tutorial on how to cook bean but is about how not to cook beans. I love navy beans, you know those tiny little dry white beans. The kind mom made and then when I joined the navy I discovered that others enjoyed them as well. I understand that they are called navy beans because the US Navy adopted them early last century. I certainly had plenty when I was a member of that organization. I like canned as well and the taste is the same but there is something about mastering the art of cooking the beans so they are perfectly done, not mush and still have the skin on.

So, night before last I washed, sorted out the rocks and put on two cups of navy beans to soak. Soaking them not only makes them cook faster but changes them to a less gas producing state. Notice I said less gas producing. Looking around the galley I spied a quart mason jar that looked just right. The next morning the jar was full, too full. It was jam packed. You'd think that after all these years of cooking beans I would have made this mistake before. Oh well it just means more work. It also means I'm not through making new mistakes.

After prying out the beans I put them in my 25 cent (thrift store) two quart copper clad pan with a cut onion and water and put them on to simmer. No salt until they are done as salt slows the cooking process for dry beans and in some cases makes them never get done. 45 minutes later I had beans that were done enough to eat but not so done that they would suffer if cooked a little more. The plan was to add some salt and some ham.

I added 1 teaspoon salt while it was hot and let it sit awhile to absorb it. Meanwhile I took out the trusty pressure pot that I have had since 1959 and threw a big fat piece of ham in the bottom and put it on to sear. You can probably tell by now that I am neither Jewish, Muslim or a vegetarian. After the ham was blackened around the edge of the fat and browned on both sides I added 2 cups water and put the lid on set to 15 pounds.

After 15 minutes I took it off the fire, let cool, removed the lid, poured in the cooked beans and set it aside to let it marry. When I tasted it, it was a pot of heaven. Beans done to perfection with a ham flavored broth filled with onion slices that were not mushy. I ate about a quarter cup, put the lid back on set to 15 pounds and put it back on the fire to come back up to pressure. I was taking the bike for a run to the bank and when I returned the beans would still be warm for lunch.

So while the pressure was coming up I took the bike from the shed, checked it over, put the stuff I usually carry in the handlebar bag and dressed myself for going out on the street to be a moving target for automobiles. I went over and over my mental check list (my what?) and when I was sure I had it together I was off.

It was 80 degrees, partly cloudy with a light SE breeze and the cars weren't too aggressive so the ride was very pleasant with a few "good mornings" and some light chatting (bullshitting) with acquaintances.

When I returned to the shack I call a house all was well with the world and it was time for lunch after which I had a number of things I was looking forward to doing. While putting the bike away I noticed the light smell of beans cooking. Beans burning. That hurried the old fool up because I had just remembered the last thing on my mental checklist.
The pressure pot. The fuse plug is just to the left of the weight in the center. The red light in the center top of the picture was like a laser to my eyeball when I came through the door. It indicates the burner is on. No steam was coming from the now open fuse plug hole because the was no longer any moisture in the pan.

Needless to say I am thankful that the house was not on fire, that I had left the stove on low, the fuse plug in the pressure pot worked and the pot did not melt.
Fuse plugs. New one on the left, one that worked perfectly on the right.

After spending the afternoon chopping the solid brick of carbon from the bottom of the pot and replacing the fuse plug I was worn out. Having had this experience before I have spare fuse plugs and if my memory (my what?) is correct this is the fourth one I have replaced in 51 years.

We did not have beans and ham for dinner. I was so traumatized that SWMBO (she who must be obeyed) soothed my feelings with humor, a loving smile and dinner. She did not call me stupid or anything.

As a side note while typing this I was listening to a report about the inability of the human brain to multi-task on the radio and I can verify that based on recent experience. You would think that an old fool that can remember to lecture others about the evils of multi-tasking would remember not to do it. I am comforted by the knowledge that I at least did not smugly think I had everything under control. That's a thought that never crosses my mind these days.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Blossoms

This blossom is on a chive. It grows in a tiny tea pot given to me by my daughter many years ago. When it started to leak it was given new life. This is the new life.These beautiful delicate blossoms are on a four foot tall radish plant that I planted last year. Who knew they made such flowers? I certainly didn't. I grew them and ate them. This one was missed in the disappointment of last years garden and I am so glad. You should see the radish. It doesn't talk yet but it grunts.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Cars, a misdirected way of life. Part 2

This a continuation of Part 1 which was about the cars of my teenage life prior to my six year naval career. This begins after boot camp and after marrying. I had a motorcycle during this time one of several I have owned. This particular one was a BSA 250cc. It was a troubled bike but it got me to and from the Naval base.
Then in a moment of insanity I bought a practical car.

9)1950 Plymouth:

The 1950 Plymouth was just as exciting as the '48 Chevy and also reliable. It was the first car for us newly marrieds. Until we purchased this car we shared a 1957 Pontiac with the mother-in-law. This car wasn't flashy but it was ours. I have to admit that there was never a problem sharing the mother-in-law's car. She gave it willingly. I never learned anything mechanical about this car because it never broke.

10)1956 Renault 4cv:

The 1956 Renault 4cv was a jewel and was the cheapest car to own and operate I have ever owned. It was designed by Porsche for the French. It had a electro-mechanical automatic clutch that worked flawlessly. The jack handle would also slip through a hole in the back (rear engine) to hand crank it. It had two belts on the engine, one for the generator and one for the water pump and they were interchangeable so if the one on the water pump broke you could take the generator belt for the water pump and drive until the battery run down. I paid 500 US dollars for it and sold it for $250. Gas, oil, insurance, license and repairs cost one cent ($00.01) per mile. This was in Southern California 1959 to 1962. I can't seem to pin down the exact dates. We drove it from Long Beach, Ca to El Paso, Texas to visit my folks and one year when I was assigned to Radar school at Treasure Island by the US Navy we yanked the back seat out packed all our stuff (including a trunk and an ironing board) in it and moved to Oakland, Ca. This was a tiny car smaller than a VW bug. If I could have any of the cars I have owned this would be the one. I had to repair it twice once when it blew a radiator hose in the desert by El Paso and once when the wire from the coil to the distributor gave up on the same trip. Of course there was no matching hose that small in the gas station but we jury rigged what was there and when I sold it it was still working fine. The distributor wire was easy. I just walked down the shoulder of the road until I found a piece of wire that looked like a insulated coat hanger that had been run over a million times which I cut, bent to fit and drove on.

These little cars were popular around the world. There was one that came down our dirt road when I was a kid in Arkansas that had a Ford 60 V8 shoehorned into the back. I wish I had paid more attention then but I was still playing in the dirt and didn't even understand bicycles yet. When I was in Japan in the early '60's this was the 60 yen taxi which meant you could go anywhere in Yokusuka for about 17 American cents.

I can't remember why I sold it so I just chalk it up to the insanity of justifying buying another car.

11)1956 Peugeot 403Speaking of insanity this is what I bought.The Peugeot was a dud for me. I believe it was designed by a French committee. It was the most ergonomically incorrect vehicle (for me) I have ever had to drive. It had all the looks and style of the 1950 Plymouth. Well, maybe a little better but not much. It was reliable, well built and rugged after I uncovered the flaw in the distributor and fixed it with some coat hanger wire (coat hangers took the place of baling wire). I believe I really bought it because it made into a double bed and we used it to camp around the 7 western states of the USA in September and October 1962. This was immediately after I separated from active duty and was a celebration of freedom. We drove it up through Yosemite National Park over Tioga Pass and on to Montana. We experienced eastern Washington and Oregon state in October (19 degrees). A great adventure I'll never forget. This was our first experience with car camping and this car made a good camp.

A word about my wife at that time. Why she put up with my harebrained ideas I'll never understand but she did and she could do and handle about anything including the bear that tried to eat our ice chest. Never, not even once did she throw up her hands and panic or complain. She came from strong pioneer stock and was pretty besides.

12)1959 Ford station wagon

The Ford station wagon was bullet proof and the start of a whole new adventure. I got it in a trade for the Peugeot and I believe it is the only time I ever got the best of a used car dealer. The Peugeot was still sitting on the lot 6 months later. We camped at Lake Havasu with this one several times and used it to move to Corpus Christi, Texas. It was strong, reliable and handled very well.

13)1964 CorvairNot a very good picture but the best I could do with my Kodak. Location Corpus Christi, TX.

I forget why we got rid of the Ford and bought the Corvair possibly just more insanity. The Corvair was a good car with 110 air-cooled horsepower and a 3 speed stick shift on the floor. It drove good and I had very little trouble with it once I understood it. We towed my first sailboat loaded with our stuff back to California from Texas and the only problem was an overheat light pulling a grade on a hot day in the desert (air cooled you know) and that was fixed by stopping for 30 minutes. Needed to pee anyway. In 1964 they still painted cars and this one must have been well painted. We drove into a sand storm between Indio and Palm Springs, California that completely frosted the windshield and headlights. In addition it took the paint down to the primer on the front of the car. The bumper was real chrome so it just shrugged it off.

My wife was hit broadside by a newly restored little sports car one day. No serious injuries but it totaled both cars and took 10 years off my life.

14)1959 VW bus
1959 VW bus. 36hp. Totally hippy I'm happy to say. It was in 1966. I have spotty memories about the '60's not entirely caused by old age. Top speed 55mph but usually cruised around 50 mph but that was alright I wasn't into speed anyway. Besides I was already into the 6 knot speed of a sailboat. Drove it everywhere including up highway one in California. If you crumple the lower front corner of that passenger door and it looked like this picture. I of course cut out the rear wheel wells and bought a couple of reversed wide wheels. I put a fancy custom muffler that was worth more than the car. All these "improvements" were meant to be an improvement on German engineering. Ha.

I sold it after the divorce because it didn't fit my new bachelor status.

15)The 1968 VW bug was my first new car and the first car I bought after the divorce. It was all tricked out with fancy appointments including Air Conditioning (a first for me) but it was still a bug and it had a bad habit of vapor locking. The AC worked good though. It was red of course. It had a tuned exhaust and when sitting inside it was easy to forget it was a bug.

I was easy to get a ticket as it would climb right up past 90mph quickly and did I mention it was red.

16)The 1969 Westphalia VW was my next new car. What a great, fun vehicle. Not because of the vehicle but because of what we did with it. It was, after all, just a VW bus but it gave us some great camping trips. It was comfortable to drive. Way better than the '59. I bought it just before my second future ex-wife and I took up house keeping. Another wonderful woman I would add and what fun we had in this vehicle.

17) I sold the Westphalia for pretty much what I paid for it and bought a sixty something VW Squareback. I don't know why I sold the camper but it was probably temporary insanity.

I drove the square back until I wrecked it and that didn't take long. That is a story best left untold. I wasn't at fault and no one was killed or injured.

18)The 1963 Ford pickup was bullet proof. It was the year that ford made the cab and bed all one. No rattles. It had a small V8(292cu in), a three speed transmission and a 4.11 rear end. It was a special order with ¾ ton running gear under the back. Ii would haul anything I could get in it. It got 12 miles to the gallon empty or loaded that dropped to 6 in traffic. Gas was cheap. I had a camper shell on it for a while and camped around California with my second future ex wife. It carried a 10 foot camper for a long time and I lived in that for about 4 months. Camped all over southern California. If was a good truck.

19)The 1965 Mercedes 220SEB I bought for my wife. I think about 1971. It has to be one of the finest piece of engineering I have ever seen. Everything was done with finesse instead of in the American way with brute force. It was way ahead of anything the Americans or the Japanese were doing at the time and it was all mechanical. Not a transistor, circuit board or any other electronics in sight except for the radio. Magnificent machine. I abused it of course.

20)70's Dodge station wagon. In the mid 1970's I moved to Las Vegas, Nevada and since I was commuting to Los Angeles to work by air (my own 1946 Cessna 140)I needed a car in Las Vegas. I found a huge Dodge station wagon with killer air. The things I remember are that it would go from 130 degrees in the car to in the 80's in about 10 minutes. It also sounded like the dive boats in Hawaii. It was a real tank but it was comfy.

At my count I used the word insanity five times in this post, six if you count this one. When discussing automobiles I think the word is appropriate.

If you are still with me in this overly long post I would like to congratulate you on having an attention span. I don't have one these days. It takes days for me to write something this long and even longer to proof read it. I don't think I've read it through at a single sitting yet. I'll try to do better on the next installment.

There are still 16 cars and a bus to go. I don't know why I'm writing this drivel as I don't even like cars, in fact I have come to resent them. Partly because of the money and time I've wasted on them. Partly because of my part in the world building a society base on the automobile and not on living things. That all started before me but it was my generation that went for it with a vengeance.
For that I am truly sorry.

I did not have a bicycle from 1955 (age16) until 1969 (age 30) and I don't know why. In the summer of 1969 I found a 3 speed in the dumpster and a matching 3 speed hanging in the carport I rented. Between the two I made a whole bike and I have had at least one since.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Garden 2010 or The Triumph Of Hope Over Reality

I know I said that I wasn't going to garden this year but I guess I can't help myself. In a weak moment (that means I had money in my pocket) I came home with these a while back breaking my resolve to not waste money trying to grow stuff because it's too expensive. That little flat of greenery was $17.50 and it is not likely to grow $17.50 worth of edibles.

Those little plants have turned into these
and these. The wagon was picked from the trash with a bent axle hanger about 4 years ago.and these. The front steps are now the herb garden with, from the top, cilantro, mint and rosemary. A few feet away and not shown is all the sage we'll ever need. The sage was planted about 3 years ago. Chives and lime basil adorn the other side of the steps. I have sweet basil started that I plan to put in the buckets with the tomatoes.

Never mind my assortment of decorator pots. They were all picked from the trash, the roadside or something came in them. I'm rather proud of them. I picked up two more last Tuesday (a bucket and a very nice bin) when I rode my bike into town that I haven't pressed into service yet. I have bell peppers for them. I don't know if this is recycling or re-purposing. I do know that it's a good way to keep plastic out of landfills until it's usefulness is completely used up.

I don't plan to buy anymore plants this year as I have saved seed and have been starting my own.

Our garden is a quarter acre and SWMBO (she who must be obeyed) has put in several trees and over a dozen berry's, dwarf trees and bushes that she thought were all dead but 90 percent are now thriving in the sunshine. She even planted a redwood tree. I thought it was dead after it was flooded out year before last but it is alive and well. It's a giant at 2 feet tall.

As you can see I have turned to bucket gardening. People throw away enough buckets that I should never need to buy one. It's a more efficient use of dirt and I can keep track of what was grown in what dirt. Best of all weeding is a piece of cake and varmints leave them alone, so far.

So we have grapes, onions, garlic, tomatoes, jalapeño, bell pepper, asparagus, berries, fruit trees, turnips and a variety of herbs. and these volunteer cantalope growing in the worm bin. Oh yeah, I'm not gardening this year.

Don't buy a plant and a bag of potting soil. Don't put the potting soil in a bucket, pot, old shoe or open suitcase then put the plant in it. It will probably die and especially if you don't water it. But if it lives you will be hooked. Good plants to not buy are mint, sweet basil or rosemary because they smell so good whether you ever use them in the kitchen or not. Whatever you do don't plant a carnation by your door or just outside your window. They just waste your time sniffing the blossoms. Save yourself and resist.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Short Horn?

Whilst picking through my ever dwindling (that's not a bad thing) bike bone yard the other day I came across this just hanging around bleaching it's bones.
I like it so well that I hung it on the back porch under the thermometer next to the crab nets.
I also have this little frame languishing on the back fence. It's steel and for 26 inch wheels but it's really small. It says Galaxy ll on the down tube but has no other markings except for a sticker that says 10 speed so I have no idea what it is. I might have to start gathering parts to make it go again. It's straight, has an excellent cartridge type bottom bracket and gives the appearance of being delicate. Maybe a fixed gear with a coaster brake and retro handlebars. Now where did I put those wheels?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Old Fools Journal: Dutchification of the Cargo Bike

Cargo bike with seat adapter. Three inch setback.

Back in December of 2007 I read The "Dutchificaton" of my bike by donnamb on the bike forums and it appeared to be the answer to a comfort problem on my bike. I was not comfortable with my feet tucked back under me and hunched over like a dog ready to breed. My wrists were not willing to support my weight for any length of time and my hips developed a litte hitch. I didn't yet know about the crank forward bicycles so I built a semi-recumbent. That was definitely more comfortable for my arms and hips but it had other problems. It wasn't as maneuverable as my upright bike and below four MPH it was really unstable. I'm not saying that they are all that way just that mine was. The post by donnamb seemed to be the answer.

I had a couple of "bar ends" in the bone pile just like the ones pictured above.
So I cut one off , painted and installed it on my 1975 Schwinn which was my regular rider at the time and still is. Picture on the right is the trimmed "bar end" for the cargo bike.

The picture below is of a well padded wide seat that fits my fat ass with adapter attached to it. I found this particular seat at the thrift store for 2 bucks. Never mind the rust it's just another color and a nice one at that.
Below is the detail of seat and adapter attached to the seat post.
This gives me a 3 inch set back which makes a the seat post effectively 63 degrees. That is all it took to solve the hip and wrist problem. When I look down between my legs I see the seat post with the bottom bracket well forward. Moving the seat back and adjusting the seat post height for correct leg extention lowers the seat making it easier for us short legged old men to stay on top of the bicycle at a stop.

I took the bike out for a little spin around the neighborhood and it's very comfortable. Now if it was about 20 pounds lighter it would be perfect. I wonder if filling the frame tubes with helium would help.
Here is the one on the Schwinn. I've definitely made this a comfort bike. I sit up straight so can see everything and I don't have back pain at least related to riding the bike. No sense in discussing the other kind.
Here is the folder with the set back and the handlebars elevated. I still feel like a bear in the circus when riding this thing but the set back took away the feeling that I was riding atop a beach ball.