Sunday, June 26, 2011

I Now Own a Framing Nailer. woo-hoo.

While I do not make my living working with wood, I enjoy working with the medium, and have gotten pretty good at both making a variety of cabinets, and carpentry in general.

Many rooms, over the years, have been trimmed out by my hand-driven nails & back-saw cuts in a miter box before I purchased my first chop-saw, and subsequent finish nailer. A brad nailer was finally purchased after I felt I had mastered nailing backboards to cabinets by hand.

Between admiring skilled carpenters of days gone by, especially the Amish in Harrison Ford's "Witness", and the relative small size of most of my framing projects, I have always driven 16d nails by hand with a 16 ounce framing hammer. There's nothing quite like the pride from an honest day's sweat after admiring the barn now sitting where there used to be grass.

I shared this sentiment with Steve, my best-friend-from-childhood, and to paraphrase, he said, "You're kidding!" But he knows my propensity for doing things the hard way, and apparently knew I would eventually succumb to the pneumatic way of handling big nails as he had years ago.

That day has arrived. The front porch's soffit has bothered me since about two years after the "skilled" craftsmen hired to construct the structure, shortly after we bought the house, were paid. Rainwater went where it was not supposed to primarily because of a not-easily-correctable shingling job.

The house has now been re-roofed by a more conscientious team. Unfortunately, all their hammering (the main roof was re-decked) shook apart the previous team's porch's soffit construction. But the soffit suffered because neither the fascia board nor plywood was well-connected to the house.

The right fix requires the overhead nailing of many 2X4s between 42 year-old rafters. Between the wood's hardness, and the fact that I'm not getting any younger, I now own a Porter-Cable framing nailer.

I'm waiting to tell Steve - He'll just cackle, and ask what took so long.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

I Beat The Varmints To It.. for now

The varmints eating the string beans bothered me so much the other day that I only gave the sugar snap peas a casual glance. Since then, we’ve had a couple of days of rain, and I took a bit more time this afternoon to look closer at the sugar snap peas – The plants, to my surprise, are producing good-looking pods.

There’s not that many of them, but they do not look like the splotches I worried about on the leaves are affecting them.

In a pre-emptive strike, I picked the two biggest pods and ate them right there in the garden.

Take that, varmints!


Monday, June 20, 2011

Varmints Are Keeping Me From Green Acres

This year’s Victory Garden is faring poorly at this point. While Kim & I are used to feeding the masses at Sunday School & Alabama games, there have never been any plans to feed God’s creatures in the middle of the night. But squirrels/rabbits/birds are not known for coordinating meals with us. At least the fence keeps out deer.

Replanting the squash, cucumbers & corn once, and the watermelon twice is one thing, but the string beans were crawling up the hemp ropes laid out (front of trellis) quite well until some animal I would like to make tomorrow night’s dinner has repeatedly stopped by to chew stalks off at ground level. I figure there will be no string bean plants left in a week or so.

The sugar snap peas (back of trellis), for some reason, are not a target. Perhaps my potential stew meat is waiting for them to crawl further up the trellis. The plants may have a blight, though, and the varmints are simply avoiding an upset tummy.

The tomato plants are, amazingly, looking pretty good. The bell pepper plants are doing okay, but I would have preferred them be a bit taller by this point. I would share more pictures, but I’d rather not consequentially share how badly the garden needs weeding at this point.

I guess my gardening guide from the ‘60s was cancelled before Oliver Douglas had a chance to address varmint control .


Friday, June 3, 2011

Daniel and a Catfish, Sittin’ in a Tree

The Mighty Suburban took us and the Airstream down to Blue Springs AL State Park over the Memorial Day weekend where Daniel reeled in his first fish – a four-pound, one ounce catfish. Unbeknownst to us, the Alabama Fish & Wildlife folks had scheduled a fishing rodeo in the park’s pond targeted for kids our Boyz’ age for our first day there, and a lot of people showed up to participate. One of the game wardens found out it was Daniel’s first fish, and told him that it is tradition to kiss the first catch. Daniel gamely played along.

Most of the dads there were casting the line, and then handing the rod over to their kid. Daniel wanted to do everything himself. So after a brief checkout on how to operate the reel, he proceeded to get really good at casting chicken livers pretty far out in the pond. He caught a total of three fish that morning.

His brother’s luck was not as good. But as they say, a bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.

Another unexpected bonus was a genuine, cement pond.

When the park was built, a natural spring’s perimeter had been widened, and concrete poured to make a great swimming hole. The runoff flows into a nearby creek which the Boyz had fun exploring. With a year-round water temperature of 58 degrees, everyone was glad the afternoons were warm.

As expected on a holiday weekend, the campground was fairly full. What caught me off guard, though, was the number of tent campers. Fortunately for them, there was no rain, and the nights cooled considerably from daytime temperatures.

Kim was able to reserve us a full-hookup site which, with its seclusion, might have been the best spot on the campground.

Everything about our visit was great until night number two’s dinner of grilled hamburgers. The Airstream’s grilling spatula was nowhere to be found. But after duct taping the kitchen spatula to the grill tongs, I was able to keep the hair on my arm.

Between fishing, swimming, bicycling, and playing on the merry-go-round, no one got bored. But it was also nice just to sit and enjoy being outside.

Blue Springs State Park was a fun place to visit – We could go there again.