Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Battery Day

Today I decided to clean and water the two six volt batteries in the motorhome. We had a problem in Mexico when corrosion actually isolated the cable going from the batteries to the generator starter relay. It was a strange problem in that it allowed current to pass through the connection at rest but as soon as I tried to start the generator, I lost conductivity between the ring tip cable connector and the battery. It was a very strange condition and one that I never saw before. The Onan mechanic in Puebla sanded the terminal and got everything working but I had to go over all the connections.

I took everything apart and sanded all the contact points until I saw shinny copper. At this point I should have applied battery grease (Vaseline would have worked but I had nothing) and put everything back together. I will have to take it apart again when I get some grease.

If you do this yourself, and you should do it at least once a year, take care to not mix up the wires. Do one terminal (pos or neg) at a time and keep track of your wires. There are many of them, in my case five on each terminal. Having one or two wires left over at the end of the job and having no idea if they belong on the pos or neg is no fun and is not easy to sort out. I use a zip tie through all the rings to keep them together.

Oh yes, wear clothes that already have holes in them from last time. I did not remember to do this and I now have six outfits reserved for battery work!

Well, my day's work is done! Now to sit back and wait for the BC Lions vs. Toronto football game at 4:30.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Happy Days, I Got A Raise

And I didn't even have to go on strike for it! My Canadian Old Age Pension just went from $546 a month to $550, a $4 raise. No such luck with my Canada Pension Plan which is the other half of our Government pension. It stayed at $676.33. This one could have been a little higher but I started taking it at age 60 instead of 65 so it got a little bit reduced. My Union pension is on top of this of course and Norma gets three pensions as well so we do OK. It is just a matter of keeping expenses under control, a little easier said than done with Norma around ;)

We have an old smoke house on the property that Norma has taken over to store her tall garden tools. Some previous owner put an inside door from the house on it and the bottom rotted off. This weekend I dug an unused sheet of 5/8 plywood out of my shop and made a new door. A few pieces of 1X4 trim and it looks pretty good. The whole building needs replacing but it is built on a 4 foot by 5 foot foundation and short concrete walls so it is really too small for what we need. I am thinking of cantilevering three walls out a foot or so and adding a foot to the height to give us some substantial "shelves" around the inside. I have been thinking of doing this for several years so it is not going to get done overnight. It will probably stay in the "job jar" until Norma wants something that I really don't want to do. "Gee, I can't do that right now, I have to rebuild the smoke house".

Life is Good!

Here is the "shed" in question and a random flower from Norma's garden. The garden is coming back after the deer seem to have given up on it.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Havana Memories

You remember when Norma and I went with Brooks and LindaLee to Cuba back in 2010. We went on a two day excursion to the city of Havana with Brooks friend, Rolando Torres Rivero (Roly). Roly is a young retired university professor who is now a professional guide. He speaks fluent English, Spanish and pretty good Russian. He is an expert on all things Cuban and is also a professional photographer and his tours include a DVD of photos.

Roly has a new website for his guiding business called Havana Memories but he will take you to any part of Cuba you want to visit.

Have a look at Roly's website. He has many photos. http://havanamemories.jimdo.com/

Monday, July 22, 2013

Ebay'ing Like Crazy

I am stocking up on stuff that is much cheaper on Ebay. I ordered 100' of RG6 TV cable for the satellite system for $18. I needed 50' for an extra run to the kitchen to accommodate the PVR that we moved from the TV room. Fifty feet in Campbell River is $30 so I borrowed 50' from the motorhome which I will replace when the roll from Ebay arrives. I also ordered some compression connectors for the cable that will work with the tool I bought at Harbour Freight in the USA a couple of years ago. I also ordered ten back to back barrel connectors for TV cable ($4).

I ordered a new 16 GB memory card for my camera. The old one is many years old and has handled many thousands of photos and has been removed and re-inserted into the camera and reader hundreds of times. I fear it will fail at some point, plus it only holds 4GB of data. Time for an upgrade so I found a 16 GB Kingston 266X CF card for $27, about half what they cost here. The larger capacity will allow me to leave the original copy of my photos for a whole winter on the card until I get home. This will give me greater peace of mind.

Some of the other stuff I ordered is a backup battery for my cell phone ($8), a batch of four small Swiss Army Knives (from an airport screening company) ($16), a powered 10 port USB hub for the computer ($8), a new lens cap for my macro lens (99 cents, shipping from China included) and 6 carpenters pencils ($5).

I also ordered a 12 volt battery for my Dewalt impact driver. I inherited a couple of these drivers from Brooks and LindaLee when they switched over to the newer 18 volt Ryobi drivers for their business. New batteries for the Dewalt are $80 in Canada but I found a supply in China for $30 (shipping included).

Speaking of tools, I have a Ryobi table saw that I broke the fence on a few months ago and I have been limping along with the broken one since. I finally asked at Home Depot about replacement parts and found they did not carry them. I found a source in the USA for the $1.16 pot metal piece that broke but they want an extra $40 for shipping to Canada! I emailed Ryobi in the US for help and they are sending me a whole new fence for free! Now that is service!

Anyway, it has been pretty quiet here on the homestead. Maybe I will wash the cars today. The weather is perfect, not too hot but nice and sunny. Life is Good!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Survivor

This is literally the only reachable rose that survived the deer incursion of a few nights ago. I don't know how they missed it, maybe they were full after eating about 100 other roses.

Yesterday it rained off and on all day so I completed the lighting project in the shop. I drove down to Home Depot and bought a cheap two bulb florescent fixture and hung it over the workbench. I am now up to date.

Here is my workshop. It is only 12 X 12 so there is no room to let it get messy, at least no messier than it is now. A couple of weeks ago you could hardly walk in the door. My dad and I banged it together in a weekend soon after we bought the house in 1989. He told me it was too small and he was right.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Daisies At Sunset

From Norma's garden

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"Norma, can I please bring my babies in to look at your flowers? I promise we won't eat them.... Pleeeeze???

I spent the day puttering. I went down to Home depot to buy a four bulb fluorescent shop light. It was $54 and of course came with no bulbs which were another $35 for a box of ten. I then managed all the electrical wiring without shocking myself. I will have to keep the two 100 watt bulbs over the workbench for now because the new shop light is in the middle(ish) of the room and my body casts a shadow on the workbench when I am standing in front of it. I could use another two bulb fluorescent fixture over the workbench. That will be another project. Maybe tomorrow, can't rush these things.

It rained last night, something the grass and flowers needed. Oh, what to do today?
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Monday, July 15, 2013

Another Beautiful Day In Paradise

The sun beating into the bedroom woke me up at six thirty, I closed the blinds and stayed in bed for another hour. We had coffee, poached eggs and toast and Norma headed for her flower garden while I checked emails and updated my Quicken. I then swapped out the satellite receiver that is shared by the  guest room and my office with a new one I found on CraigsList. It was the last standard definition receiver in the house so now they are all HD's.

Norma now needed a little help in the garden so we spent a bit of time there after which I retreated to my workshop. I have been having a little trouble with the lighting in there. I had four 150 watt bulbs in the ceiling but they can no longer be found so two of them are now 100 watt. One of the light sockets has started to lose contact with the bulb and flickers constantly so it is time for some modernization. Maybe a couple of florescent fixtures. My ageing eyes need more light!

I came back in the house to find a small bird had come in the patio doors and was trying to fly through the TV room windows. I closed the door leading to the rest of the house and opened the two doors leading out, hoping he would find one of them. That did not happen so when he was exhausted I started talking to him and moved closer. He did not try to fly away but just settled onto the window sill where he let me pick him up. I carried him outside and put him on the picnic table. He stood there for a few seconds and flew away, no doubt with a great story to tell his friends.

The mail lady brought a new spring for the scissors on the small Swiss Army Knife on my key ring. I had researched replacing this broken spring and the advice was to send it away for repairs. I wanted to try the repair myself so I found springs on eBay ($1.40 for two, shipping included). It went much quicker and easier than I expected, taking less than five minutes with a center punch and long nose pliers. I should go in the business.

So... That was the excitement around here today. Life is Good!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Basking In The Sun

We have been doing very little here these past few days. The weather has been really nice, warm but not hot, so Norma has been busy with her flowers. The deer made one incursion when we failed to fix the net we put across the driveway properly in place one night. They headed straight for the roses that were just about to bloom so Norma was pretty sad about that.

Brooks and Lindalee came up for the weekend and we had our friends over for a patio party on Saturday. Everyone had fun and I had a little too much vodka/beer/tequila so I was content to watch TV all day Sunday. Brooks and LindaLee had to head home Sunday morning as they had a small fencing job to do before Brooks headed back to work in Fort McMurray on Tuesday.

My new lens arrived for my Nikon D200. I went down to the water to take a few test shots with it and they look pretty good. It is lighter and smaller than the old one. I had to pay $56 taxes on it which seldom happens. Usually things just arrive in the mail but this package was flagged to go through customs inspection. Like I say, it doesn't happen often so I can hardly complain when it does. I still saved a hundred and fifty dollars over buying it here.

I have been watching the Zimmerman trial in Florida. They are just about to put it to the jury. I do not have good feelings about the outcome. Too many people in the US feel it is OK to shoot an unarmed teenager just because you don't like the "look" of him. The victim is a young black male and the jury is all women, five whites and one Hispanic. The tide is definitely against minorities these days what with the Supreme Court's recent decision on the Voter Rights Act. Like I say, I do not have good feelings, I think he might get off. Too much time was spent of who was on the ground and who was screaming what. Face it, the "crime" committed by the teenager was "Walking While Black" and he paid the ultimate price.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Our Eagle

One of our resident eagles came for a closer look at us today. He landed in the tree about 20 feet from our patio and stayed for a few minutes to check us out. Long enough for me to get a photo anyway. He is one of the one year olds that was hatched in the trees behind the house last year. His head will start to turn white next year.

Note: A couple of you were wondering how that weed killer formula worked on the patio blocks. Well, it worked great! It killed the weeds dead and the next day whey were easy to pull out. The entire patio took six litres of vinegar.


4 liters white vinegar
2 cups salt
big squeeze of dishwashing liquid (to make it stick to weeds)
Shake well to dissolve the salt

Be careful, it will kill anything it gets on (grass, flowers, etc)

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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Bird Neighbors

About three years ago I built a couple of double decker bird houses out of Brooks and LindaLee's scrap cedar. I thought they were pretty nice but no birds moved in. They sat there in the highest reaches of the pergola with "vacancy" signs on them.

A couple of weeks ago a pair of White Crowned Sparrows started showing an interest in our feeders and bird baths. They came around a few times a day and soon started sticking around all day. A few days ago I was looking out the window and saw some movement at one of the bird houses. Sure enough, in a minute one of them flew in with a beak full of twigs. They were fixing it up to move in!

They are great neighbors. They don't spend much time indoors, preferring nearby branches and telephone wires. Their sharp "peeps" greet us when we walk out the door and they are always the first visitors to my feeders when I refill them. They seem to like it here.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Stoop Labour

Yesterday and today I am the Weed Killer! We are having our annual patio get together with our friends here this weekend and the concrete block patio is full of weeds. I have a formula for weed killer (4 liters vinegar, two cups salt and a good squeeze of  liquid dish soap) that works well but is tough to apply. I started out with a squirt bottle, going along every joint, pulling weeds and squirting. It took most of yesterday afternoon to do half the patio.

Today I am trying something different. I found an empty dish soap bottle, filled it with the formula and gently squeezed out a stream along the joint. It is going much quicker but is using much more product. That is fine because I have lots of vinegar and salt, thanks to our friends Dave and Doris who are moving and are trying to reduce the amount of stuff that has to go into storage. Dave stopped off yesterday to drop off a spare concrete pedestal for my sundial as well as salt and vinegar. Thanks Dave and Doris!

I just did two rows of blocks and took a break to watch the Zimmerman trial on CNN. Well, back to the stoop labour.