The Current State of Things

Time marches on.  Here it is--The last day of August.  In some ways it's like we've had a good summer, and in other ways we're still waiting for summer to show up.  Twisted...

Just call me the master of troubleshooting.  My car has been running crappy for a long time now.  Last night I finally fixed it.  The main problem?  Spark plugs!  I ended up replacing so many things, none of which cured it's major hesitation when you press the gas pedal.  I started thinking about it, and here's a list of the things I replaced, in order of replacement:  Air filter, both oxygen sensors (yes, it has two of them), crankshaft position sensor, throttle position sensor, fuel filter, spark plugs, and spark plug wires.  Ka-CHING!  The thing is, everything I replaced, with the exception of the throttle position sensor and air filter, improved it a little.  I'd say the sensor didn't need to be replaced at all, but pretty much everything else did.  What goaded me into action to begin with (the proverbial Straw that Broke the Camel's Back) was the fact that the car started randomly dying and misfiring.  That was the crankshaft position sensor.  When I changed the plugs last night, I was amazed at how burned they were.  The center electrode was so far gone that the gap had become wide enough that it's a wonder the spark jumped it at all.  During the changing of the plugs, two of the plug wires broke, so I had to add a set of those to the end of the list.  I've got an app on my iPod that I use to monitor everything about all the cars, including making it super easy to watch the gas consumption.  The last 3 times I've filled up have netted me 34 or 35 mpg, and that was running crappily (I love inventing words that should have existed all along)!  Now that it's running as it should, there are two mpg outcomes: Either the mileage will go up because the car needs less gas pedal and runs so much better, or I will be pressing the gas pedal and enjoying the power so much that the mileage will go down.  I'm predicting the latter scenario to begin with... Followed by the former.

My mom called the other night with news that she has a spot of cancer that was found during her gynecological exam.  She was hesitant to explain it fully, but from what I gathered it must be just inside her vaginal opening.  She's lucky she has an observant doc.  If memory serves me, she's going in specifically to have the spot checked or whatever they do today.  I'll get more information on that.  The last thing anybody needs in my family is my ill-health, crotchety, Jekyll & Hyde ol' man outliving my mother.  That would be tough to take.

Blogs, blogs, blogs.  If this one isn't enough, I went and added the 365 blog a while back.  Then I added the Leftovers blog a couple weeks ago to have a place to showcase pictures that I liked but didn't really have a place for.  Now I'm working on yet another blog!  This one will be to chronicle the ever-changing city of Auburn.  I got the idea while reading posts from fellow classmates on Facebook, many of which no longer live here.  A lot of things have changed about Auburn since we graduated in 1974, and a lot of things haven't, and my love for taking mediocre pictures is perfect for such a blog.  In my opinion, the city is being ruined by the current elected officials and their underlings, and it feels almost as if I need to get it all down while the city even exists.  I know it's not that bad, but at times it seems like it.

Now Rachyl and Tony are our new neighbors!  Tony outdid himself on his work ethic when it came down to working that house over before they moved in.  They did a huge amount of work, totally transforming the place.  It was almost as if they moved into a new house, freshly built!  This event touches many of us.  They have been living with Denny and Heather so long that little Hunter has literally had Rachyl as an in-house "parent" most the majority of his life.  Denny and Heather have never really had the house to themselves since they moved in until now.  Now they can both be regular "walk-around-the-house-in-your-underwear-if-you-want-to" folks.  Now they can rethink and revamp their whole house to suit their current needs and wants.  All the stuff that Rachyl and Tony own has been stored at Denny's house, Kevin's house, and our house (in the garage).  Now we all have our space back.  Since I've lived here the side of the garage that houses my stuff (Harley included) has been partly a storage unit.  Space was tight.  Now I can start transforming it into my space.

I'm looking forward to flying to Kauai with Suz next week!  I really need a vacation, and what better place to visit when we've had such an "iffy" summer than Hawaii right?

Getting Ready For Winter

Already?! It's still only August!

Around here lately we're having a tough time believing it's August. It's just not been the scorcher that August is known for being. It's actually been more like April--Which can actually be a good thing. While there have still been days of hot weather, they are sporadic and this weekend was not in that category.

It has been a busy, busy weekend for Tony.  He and Rachyl signed the papers on their long, long-awaited home on Thursday!  Ever since that moment (and even before, with special permission) there has been work going on there.  It's been a constant job site since they came home on Friday.  Okay, that is after they took us and Denny & Heather to eat a celebratory dinner at Applebee's.  Since that time it's been practically nonstop work over there.  A small wall ripped out, new paint throughout, new flooring in places, new ceiling fans, etc, etc.  Tony has been so driven that I'm sure he even hated to stop for sleep.  He has had lots of help from everyone too.  The excitement has enveloped pretty much everyone in the family here, and rightly so!  Rachyl has been trying to get a house bought for over two years, and they've been working on getting this particular one for half of that time.  Due to the nature of most houses that are currently for sale being of the "short-sale" variety, there's apparently a lot of red tape and hoops to jump through.  Well, they finally made it!

I've been browsing Craigslist for firewood lately. Partly just to ease my squirrel tendencies, and partly because the price for firewood always goes up the first of October (at least among the firewood vendors). Saturday I found a pretty good-sized pickup load that we ended up paying $70 for. Honestly, if he would have not taken our $70 offer (he wanted $80) we would have passed. The reason was that a good 10% of it was more recent cut and would do us no good at all this winter. We were planning on going to the little town of Snoqualmie for their annual Train Festival, but our quick trip to get the firewood sort of waylaid us for a while first.

When we came back we just parked the truck and headed to Snoqualmie.  After all, we had picture-taking on the mind!  On our way we stopped at Mark and Rachel's house and picked up their oldest daughter, Celeste.  We like to include them in things whenever we can.  The event itself wasn't spectacular, but we all had a great time.  We took a lot of pictures, but only part of it was train-related. There were people, activities, and just the town sights themselves that all lent themselves to our viewfinders.

Yesterday was work day.  I had a lot of firewood "rotation" that I had to do.  Last year we (okay, Kevin actually) cut a few downed trees up in the woods behind our house.  We had all these "rounds" that have been sitting back there patiently awaiting their turn to jump into our woodstove.  Before I could put all the "new" wood that was still in the truck into it's rightful place in the storage area, I had to move all that other stuff out.  As I went I occasionally had to split one of the pieces a little smaller as I stacked it.  When all that wood was stacked I turned my attention to the rounds that I had moved.  I used my seldom-used-for-heavy-labor body and split all of it.  That was a lot of work.  It took its toll on my lower back and left wrist by the time I was done.  Only my wrist still hurts a little this morning but it's much better than it was yesterday.  Maybe the hot tub helped eh?

I don't think I've mentioned it on here, but I started a new blog a couple weeks ago called Leftovers.  It's a place for me to park what I consider to be worthy shots from a photography standpoint that didn't fit into whatever theme I was shooting in or whatever.  In other words, shots that came out great but I really didn't have a reason to keep.  Artsy-fartsy?  You decide.  I'm just very happy with some of the stuff I've put on there so far.  It started as kind of a "catch-all" but has evolved already into just plain good photography.

At least for me it's good.

Summer Strikes Back

It got hot yesterday.  Real hot.  It wasn't the fact that it got real hot, but rather the fact that there wasn't much transition into it.  Just a couple days ago it wasn't even 70 degrees until almost lunchtime.  Yesterday Sue's thermometer (it automatically keeps track of the high and puts it in memory) recorded a high of 101 in the shade.

So what did we do on such a hot day?  Went out in the sun like idiots... That's what!  We attended a parade and a Renaissance Faire.

I mentioned to Sue a couple weeks ago or so that the Auburn Good Ol' Days event was coming up.  Always searching for options for our Picture of the Day blog, I thought that it would provide us with some good photo ops.  After all--They have a parade and all kinds of stuff going on when they close the center of town for the event.  Sue had never been to it, and of course the newly-arrived DeBelling family hadn't either.  We all agreed that it might be interesting.

We stayed for the parade.

And what about that parade?  Eh, at least one thumb down.  With the exception of a truly awesome group of lovingly-restored tractors and an equally good group of old fire engines, there wasn't much else.  Highly political, at times it seemed like every other participant in the parade was a political figure running for office in the upcoming primary.  Lots of candy was being tossed out to the kids, so I guess that was a high point too (just ask Markie--He had a pretty good sized bag full by the end).  There were no clowns even.  The three high schools in town had small summer-representations of their marching bands there but they we barely adequate.  When we were almost back to our car I looked down a particular side street that was usually closed off and full of food and vendor tents and found it empty and open for traffic.  I don't think my expectations were too high--I think my memories of Auburn's Good Ol' Days event were too fond.  The last time I went was some time ago, and it was really much, much better then.  I felt a little sorry I played tour guide for it.  I hope they'll all forgive me.  I'd say that particular parade/event in Auburn is in its death-throes.

From there Suzie and I went home and assembled a couple of hot-weather versions of our medieval costumery.  When we got to the Renaissance Faire I'm sure it was well into the upper 90's, but at least there was a little bit of a breeze.  Truth is, it didn't do much for people.  Everybody seemed off their game.  There were a few people that were putting on their "brave face" and were completely in character, but for the most part everybody was wondering what the hell they were doing there.  The sporadic water misters that were scattered here and there to help people cool down were barely worthy, and drinking water seemed in short supply.  The EMT people were there in two different vehicles while we were there--Picking up the fallen attendees or vendors that had succumbed to the heat.  I wasn't in much of a picture mood and I don't think Sue was really on top of it either.  More than once I heard arguing from attendees (among themselves) and saw vendors reclining on the ground in their tents like they were half dead.  Everybody's fuses were a little short.  Needless to say we didn't stay long.

By the time we got home the wind was picking up, and the rest of our hot day actually turned out pretty good.  Our back yard was in the shade by that time, so we grilled up a bunch of hot dogs and brats.  Folks from up the street dropped in here and there and made for a very pleasurable evening.

A good finish to an iffy day.

Revisiting the Blogosphere

It's been quite a while since I actually blogged something.  The last post being only a poem kind of extended that lack a little while.  Actually, I really didn't have much going on to cover.

The first thing on most everyone's mind around here is the weather.  It never got out of the 60's all day yesterday, and it rained steady all afternoon.  Remember August?  We don't.  We still haven't had a hot August day yet, and here it is the 8th.  As I sit looking out the window in front of my computer I see more of the same:  The car windows are streaked with rivulets of water.  Yep, once again there is drizzle coming down.  Yesterday's famous Seafair Unlimited Hydroplane races on Lake Washington in Seattle took place in steady rain--Something that, according do the Seattle Times, has only happened one other time in 1995.

I managed to finally get something on our "to-do" list last week:  A new driveway gate.  Suzie built the old one several years ago and it has finally surrendered to the elements.  Parts of the frame were rotting and falling apart.  All of the fence boards were all still in good shape so we're keeping those (I love weathered cedar boards).  I have never built a gate before so I wasn't sure what to expect as far as hanging and hinging goes, but when all was said and done it came out pretty good for a pretend woodworker.  Both halves hang straight.

My poor ol' Neon has needed tires for a while now but I have been putting it off because the weather was pretty nice and didn't feel that good, deep tread was of a high priority.  When I did finally start looking into it, I found that the size of tires that it uses have pretty much gone obsolete.  They're only 13" tires, and while there are still plenty of 13" tires available (lots of small commuter cars used them), there aren't many choices to pick from.  Only a couple sizes, and nothing in a major brand.  My only real choice was to upgrade to a 14" wheel/tire combo.  I finally found a guy on Craigslist last week that had a set of nice tires on stock, steel wheels that I got for $130.  Score!  I decided to change them yesterday. Unfortunately, my little half-hour task turned into 2+ hours when I found out that the center hole on the "new" wheels was just slightly smaller on the inner lip and wouldn't sit flat against the brake drums.  I had to spend time with a high-speed grinder to correct that.  Once they were all fixed up to fit then I had to shoot them with a little corrosion-control pigment (spray paint) to keep them from rusting up.  Because my old wheels were 13" and the new ones are 14" my wheel covers don't fit, so now I'm driving around with bare, shiny black steelies (Sue shot the above picture of it yesterday in Seattle).  I'm just going to look for a set of chrome trim rings to put on it instead of wheel covers... Like the other picture shows.

Pretty racy eh?