Breakin’ rocks in the hot sun

rock-work As Old NFO said in comments, I’ve got a work-out goin’ on. We fought the rocks and the rocks won. 86° Fahrenheit yesterday and the hottest day of the year so-far – 16-degrees above average.
We started moving the rocks off the tree roots in preparation for laying down tan-bark – something more gentle on the shrubbery. And the pseudo-curbside had rock-chip in place but the smooth river-rock (known to dirtbike riders as “baby-heads”) only wrapped around a portion of the frontage, stopping at the walkway, so we started filling-in. My little plastic wagon was taxed mightily and has not yet broken despite our efforts, the “dump” feature coming in very handy. We stopped yesterday at about 16-feet of frontage. There’s more roundy-river-rock in places we don’t need or want, but the work is heavy-lifting and we’re takin’ a break.
Rocky-RacoonUPDATE: Back at it – this is morning work, by the time the sun gets way-up there’s no shade.
UPDATE-UPDATE: We’re almost to the sign-post, and other more river-rock is being removed from the driveway edging and elsewhere, the edging replaced by blocky granite hunks…
Update-Update-Update: A beautiful old Stearman in vintage Army Air Corps paint just fluttered-in to land…

Gone daddy, gone…

Juniper Phase II…my Juniper is gone away. Well, a bunch more anyhow – off to our friend’s burn-pile.
Yes here in rural California, outside the smuggy Prius-drenched confines and cloistered closed-minds of the Tesla BayArayans, we have a vastly different lifestyle and mindset that includes the Liberal allowance for such things as burn-piles.
We don’t have one ourseves, mores the pity, but neighbors down the hill and by the golf-course do, and does our friend on the other side of the lake. And today (Monday) we attacked it further, revealing much more of the hidden flora beneath the boughs.
UPDATE: And then we went to work on the rocks…

Adventures in Forestry

 Motion translation arrangement for limiting the rate of lever arm convergence in an exercise machine United States Patent 6682466 Inventors: Ellis, Patrick D. (Milwaukee, WI)

Motion translation arrangement for limiting the rate of lever arm convergence in an exercise machine United States Patent 6682466 Inventors: Ellis, Patrick D. (Milwaukee, WI)

Yesterday we got busy with our New Year’s Fitness Training Regimen (not really, if you know me!), and I did a bunch of upper-body reps by yanking on the cord of a pole trimmer, while the Retired Adjutant General applied a Chest Butterfly Machine type motion to a pair of large loping shears. We set to and began decimating the canopy of the fruitless purple plum tree in the front yard. By decimating I mean the proper usage of the term: one-in-ten branches were attacked. Ultimately we whacked-it good approaching a double-decimation (two-in-ten) of the many spidery “waterspouts” that were sent up – and then we did more arm-work today in two AM/PM sessions on the level of a triple-decimation – giving it a serious haircut. It’s good to get out in the fresh air and work up a sweat, and temps were in the upper Sixties and clear on the granite outcropping. Little planes flew in overhead as they lined-up over the garage on the glide path.
Since it’s prior-lifestyle and previous-owner’s trimming directions (or lack of direction), the tree does nothing but present a round red lollipop to passers-by. It was trimmed into an arboreal afro, and the low branches offer no useful shade in the summer and actually very little screening since the nearby divided-road is a good twenty feet below, and the other, opposite direction passes even further away. Anybody who seeks a view must crane their necks upwards, which is unlikely in a car anyhow. Following its afro-haircut, the subsequent growth was a thickly intertwined bramble of large twisted branches that shot across in every direction criss-crossing each other, and with some leaning on each other, weighted by a vertical mass of up-shoots – that had to stop. Besides, it was starting to obscure the wonderful views off into the distance and the bright red sunsets. This is a hard pruning.

After today’s AM workout we dropped-off donations of various sorts at Snowline Hospice and then went for a drive in The Country. We followed North Shingle Road to a jog onto Green Valley, and then continued onto winding Lotus Road until we passed Sutter’s Mill School at Gold Hill Road. About five minutes later we reached Highway 49 in Coloma and the digging site of Sutter’s Mill – the gold-discovery state-park. Highway 49 is an awesome-easy roller-coaster road from one end to the other, from the north-end high up at Vinton and Highway 70 (the awesome Feather River Canyon run), all the way down to Oakhurst in the Southern Sierra foothills – and we’re going to have some great rides after the bike-shopping is done…

Careful. there's a cliff back there.

Careful. there’s a cliff back there.

Anyhow, we followed 49 back into Hangtown, and then got on the freeway (Hwy 50) to home, where I passed a deep-purple Lamborghini Murciélago that merged beside us. Nice ride, limited view of other people’s ankles out the low windows I can only imagine. As a kid returning from India, when we drove the VW Microbus through the Alps in ’69, I will ALWAYS remember seeing a sexy gorgeous yellow Miura on the French side, and have a distant/distinct fondness for the brand – but the new offerings don’t really trip my buzz-meter any more.

UPDATE: Oww-oww! Oww-oww! Ibupriofen is my old, under-utilized muscles’ friend. Cut and sawed s’more in the AM before it gets hot, and then after lunch loaded up the truck and covered it in a cargo-net.

Irrigation control #2

I should begin a log or hash-tag these events. The Weather-reader on the TeeVee had forecast a high of 60 degrees today, and tomorrow or Tuesday an incoming blast of cold and wet air from a Canadian source, traveling south to chill the region and put some snow down at Tahoe while freezing our own asses. So I decided I better deal with the split in the #3 circuit in the above-ground drip-line, and when I went to address its issues I added my own incompetence to the mix via the application of too much strength, and increased the failure to function by snapping it off at the root. Anyhow it was a good deal warmer than expected, well above 60 and into the mid 70’s at least.
Discovery through digging proceeded, and showed the below-ground fitting to be a t-standard, right in the middle of the seasonal (when it rains) stream-bed. I ran the water to get out the accumulated dirt, and filled the hole – and noticed a secondary leak and decided the t-fitting was unnecessary as the junipers were hellishly well embedded, and drought-tolerant as well – they didn’t need a lot more water diverted to them. I pumped-out the hole with my sump-attachment on the De Walt drill until the battery ran dry and I had to go to the garage for the other battery which was not plugged-in and dead as well. Oh great.
We left off that to attack the overgrown Lavender which had gone native and had transformed into a wild thicket, filled high with the decaying results of years of leaf-blowing – the interior was clogged and caked with a fine leaf-mulch that I spread over gaps in the tanbark. Another half-hour or more of work returned the lavender to a shrub-like appearance and with the skirt raised, it revealed an nice border of local rock all around the base.
Hot and sweaty I made a shopping list and it was time for lunch. After a nice dish of Pollo Fundido at a local Margaritateria, we returned home via Ace Hardware where I realized I had all the necessary fittings, junctions, and do-dads – but no 3/4″ pipe – mine was all 1/2″ from the previous episode… So back to Ace.
Now where does all this thing drain-from, and will the incoming freeze burst the lines unless they’re drained or do I leave them running to keep from freezing, and spread icicles all over the land?
Arrgh my back, but it’s good exercise and stretching too. My 89yr old Dad is still going strong and all he does is garden. So fetch me the Ibuprofen.

Some assembly required: Dirtopia

Got this package off the Brown Truck of Happiness: the bed-extender/ramp. It’s heavy and there are many pieces. I should have used a drill with a 4mm hex but I didn’t want to strip the nuts, I can always strip them by hand!
It took a while and about a whole tube of blue loctite, but in the end it’s as strong as my Little Giant ladder and about as heavy.IMGP0005x640

Impediments to Slow-Prone II

It’s getting better – I think.  The fluid is dispersing a bit, but it’s SLOW – and still a bit hot underneath the nub where the skin is peeling.  I’m still icing it down and taking ibuprofen.
Turns out the impediment to Slow-Prone is also an impediment to Rapid-Seated and even Offhand give the way we are taught to manage our bodies in pursuit of shooting excellence – bone on bone is the key to stability and repeat-performance.
This is not a lot of fun – but I figure it has been in the making for a while, with each grinding drill on concrete and only a thin pad, and it finally just said “enough!” – so now I have to deal with it. 
Just before this I was looking around for an elbow pad with a gel-insert that was flexible enough to actually bend snd fit under my shooting coat.  I had cobbeled together a wrap that would hold a Dr. Scholl’s heel-gel thing – but circumstances caught-up before I could do anything practical, like try it out…

Early Christmas

The thirty-seven-odd days of Christmas have begun already, and some glad years it’s Ho-ho Sainty Nicollo coming down from the frosty Alpine fields with a box of coconut-crisp candy and CD’s of Enya, other times it’s Jumpin’ Krispy Kringleski crossing the icy Fjord with a flagon of Lutefisk and carols of ABBA dancing across the tundra – and other times it’s that bastard neer-do-well sidekick, coal-black and beetle-browed Rumplepursesnatch, with a stale bottle of Schlitz and a wet stogie sneaking around in the dark putting nails in tires. I “get” the coal bit.
Actually this issue had been noticed and repaired once already by the Ford dealer before my quick jaunt up to Reno for the Gunbloggers Rendezvous. It had held as long as I guess it could, and brought us home safely in the evening before expiring. Walking out on the cold Sunday morning we found my poor truck on bended knee, like a small circus pachyderm since it’s that size and color – and the weight of it was upon the rim and crushing the bead. Toast was the tire, and the rest were close as I examined the wear-lines. Great bowling-balls of Elephant Crap!!

The downstairs roommate-girl’s Civic was parked close-by and didn’t leave much room to maneuver. My guess, she was still away at her boyfriend’s playing find the salami. I opened the clamshell passenger-side doors (that also prevented much maneuvering), to retrieve the jack and cranking tools underneath the back seat. With a twist and a drop I slid the jack forward up under the frame rail (not like my buddy Christian who stuck it against his body panel and jacked his door up to the crumple-zone! Ha! Me smart!) and cranked it to take-up the weight. Futile effort I suppose as it had lain there like that overnight. And somewhere along the way in that awkward-dorky, reaching position I charley-horsed my back shoulder-blade muscle. Or sub-fluxated it – or whatever the Chiropractor calls it. Ow! Double f*ck!!

Nothing much was gonna happen so we went out to lunch, and on the return I picked up a couple rubber chocks at NAPA to jam behind the rear wheels hoping to secure it. We went over the Christmas list and wrapped our cheap-ass presents for Family and Friends. Done! Ha!! Time for a beer.

Monday was the day of reckoning and labor, and I bent to work jacking up the front passenger side to remove the lugs. Ow! Shoulder still spazzed. Just my luck all my spiffy hand-me-down Snap-On half-inch drive sockets are some damn weird-ass KTM metric Euro-f@#k*%& size – so I popped the beauty-cover off the front hub and resorted to the supplied lug-nut wrench instead of the 27mm socket, or the 21mm, or the 23mm – or whatever the f*ck it is. I don’t even have any SAE stuff. The nuts came off pretty easy, but it didn’t feel like the recommended 150Lbs torque to me.

Back around the ass-end I fiddled with a flashlight and the wrong glasses, trying to insert hidden Slot-A into mystery Tab-B, with the spindly and finicky jointed-tool that Ford supplies – and finally begun the crank-down of the full-size spare from it’s well amidships. Big-ass tires are heavy and filthy, but we got it done with a good clodhopper yank on the lug-nut wrench.

The Costco discount-coupon saved me $80 (luckily they had ’em in stock) – about one-tenth the cost of four new Michelin 265/70-R17 XLT’s with an S rating – good for 112 mph, and if I ever get the damn truck airborne off a cliff I might see that before I hit the 32-feet per-second-per-second fall-rate…
Merry Christmas to me! I got ALL my Christmas presents early this year!!


The mighty upright sentinals capped and stanchioned by thick rafters of mighty old-growth redwood has come undone.

The railroad spike-like twenty penny nails have been persuaded to abandon ship with the help of a crow-bar and a 24-ounce framing hammer. That took a bit of loud persuading.
I saved some of the top-boards just because I couldn’t yet part with them. The crackle on the old paint and the hammer dents have an almost artistic merit. All the side skirt-boards had holes cut through them and the decision about where the exact location for the electrical switch must have changed more than once – the weakened boards all split asunder. The 4×4 posts may have a purpose so I’ll hang onto them for a bit still, or because I can’t let them go yet.