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Entries in housework (13)


Mulch Madness

ed's toyota truck at the landfill, getting a cubic yard of compost. the mound peaks higher than the cab part of the body and the whole tail end is sagging!It is now an annual ritual to go out in March and fetch a truckload of compost to enrich the garden. Since the start of 2007 I've done this about five times now, once each spring and once later on in the summer or fall. The best way to get it in the truck is to let the crew just use the skiploader to dump about a cubic yard. It is a little imprecise as you can see, but it saves half the work of moving it. Maybe I should have checked the air pressure in the tires before embarking this time. Driving it off the landfill was like skippering a boat! At any rate, you can't go wrong for the price. All this was just $5 and some gas and shoveling time back home.

ed with a nasty looking garden tool for weeding. the attitude adjusterWeapons of Grass DestructionFor turning the stuff into the existing ground, I do it the hard way. No roto-tillers for me, no. It's shovels, rakes, and whatever else it takes. This year I decided to get this cultivator tool. I call it a weapon of grass destruction, but have nicknamed it "The Attitude Adjuster." It looks a little like Cthulu from a Lovecraft novel. Ugly, that is, but handy. I guess if I had any more ground to work, I'd lose the pride in my old-timey approach and go for the roto-tiller. So far it is bearable and a nice way to spend a late winter/early spring evening.


Black-And-White On Black-And-White Crime

buber the dog looking up from the porch on an autumn day. long shadows and low sun.Most of you have been introduced to Buber the Dog. He is a loving, sweet companion who usually likes to get grunty at meal time and walk time, close to 10 pm each night. Often, we give him a bit of off-leash time in certain spaces where we know he is more or less contained. Most of the time he is good about staying reasonably close. He ordinarily wears a Halti harness over his face when walking, so as to reduce his extremely muscular pulling. Most of the time he claws at it to get it off, but we walk on, even if he fights it. Sooner or later he has to move forward with us. We are used to his rolling onto the ground and clawing it so as to slip it off his muzzle, so we initially didn't think anything of tonight's exaggerated rolling when we caught up with him in the corner yard. Then when we got him back to get on leash, he reeked!

a skunk.This is Buber the Dog's newly discovered archnemesis, the Skunk. Buber was initially perversely attracted to an animal such as this (maybe because it too shares black and white coloring). We have reason to believe this might change—not the coloring, but the fascination. Buber found out on one midnight walk that maybe flirting with this sort of creature is not a great idea, and chasing after it is perhaps worse. Buber appears to have sustained a "direct hit" with the malodorous skunk-charming perfume. All the way back to the house, he was sneezing and snorting and rolling in the dirt. The sneezes were so forceful I thought he might sneeze himself inside out!

buber gets a skunk bath of hydrogen peroxide, dish soap, and baking soda. he doesn't like baths.This was actually Buber's second bath in the same day. Kelli was nice enough to give him one—tortuous as it tends to be for him—earlier in the morning. He was feeling all sleek and silky before "the encounter." He was even smelling pretty good. Since "the encounter" happened well after midnight, it was not a great time to cobble together the needed items to make the de-skunking cocktail of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and liquid soap. So Kelli did what she could with baking soda, rinses, and more applications of baking soda and subsequent rinses. His leashes were left to sit in a bleach-detergent bath, but smelled the next day. His eyes were red like hell but got better overnight.

The poor beast was still sneezing like crazy, but despite having two water torture episodes in the same day, he was a bit more compliant and maybe understood we had to help him out of his predicament. The good news is, we have a nicely washed, sleek and shiny dog now!


2008 Begins

toyota at 206167 on first of 2008Here is my odometer just past midnight on New Year's Day. If you recall from a year ago, I had the interesting fortune of parking my car on New Year's Eve with 200,006 miles at the very end of 2006! So here I am a year later, and I am proud to say that I basically nailed my goal of cutting my driving back to about half of what passes for normal (~12,000/annum). The final tally puts me at 6,161 miles for all of 2007. I chalk it up to a lot of self restraint, picking not to do more driving than I need to do, and making better use of the truck when I do drive it. My work commute—while I had one—was only about seven miles each way. I don't talk about it much here anymore, but my mind is still on peak oil, so this is part of my practice routine.

our landlord decided to wait till winter in order to replace all the windows. kitchen window here is out and ready to be replaced.When we moved into our house in March, the landlady let us make a list of things that needed to be done since the place hadn't been lived in for years. So we did, and among the things to work on were the windows, which had serious problems closing. That wasn't a problem during the summer, but in October or so, there started to be a small bit of contractor activity as estimates were collected shortly after we withheld rent and asked that our earlier requests have some effort applied. Our landlords are cheap and slow sort of like at least one we had before, and so it became clear that it would probably come at the worst possible time. And it did—smack in the dead of winter! So on the first of the year, about 3-4 pm we had a drop in from the landlord who said there would be a crew to come install the long awaited windows and a kitchen door. All this was to start the next morning at 7:30! Dammit. Suzanne has been gone on her winter vacation, and Kelli was about to fly out on the 3rd for her vacation, and all this window activity was to be compressed into one day—the 2nd. Kelli and I had just cleaned house the day before. Then here came the crew, just on time (but way early considering my late night of work). Right away, we both needed to hustle to move stuff in a hurry. Every room got messed up in a random effort to push stuff aside. Then with all the guys going in and out, it made a royal mess. I also was told that instead of starting work at 9 pm like usual, on this day we were to get an early start at 3 pm, and work till midnight.

richie hanging a banner in the bucket truckThe window crew got done and was gone by 2:15. I had to leave at 2:30 and didn't return till midnight after a long night of banner work. Kelli and I had 15 minutes of daytime to "enjoy" but that was messed up by the fact that the city parking troll came by and ticketed my truck for not turning my wheels to the curb on the quite-slight incline where we live. Fortunately, Kelli didn't get ticketed but she could have been, given that her wheels were straight too, and one space ahead of me. Oh well, I didn't need that $47 anyway! After our 15 minutes of bitching about the parking ticket, I left for work. When I came back, Kelli was doing last minute prep for her flight. I was to take her to the airport at 5:30 or so, but we got started late. At the last minute, we had printer problems so she couldn't print out her confirmation. After the last days' events I was in no mood to play tech support at that hour. We got on the road to the airport and I saw her off on her 12-day trip to Florida.

And for the most part, I have more banner hanging work to look forward to until I start a new full time job next week at a produce company.


Beanie Babies

several of our bean plants starting to scale the cage and bamboo rods that we set up for them.It has been rather cool and gray for this month of May, and part of April was the same. Still, the new garden is starting to share some love with us. Just a few minutes ago, Kelli and I took a look at our pole beans and while they were still short of stature and hadn't climbed up the grid cages, there was about a meal's worth of plump and snappy beans. A few were almost as long as my hand. We have twelve plants in a row that should give us some good return during the summer. Last summer at Calabrese West, we had six plants and were awash in beans such that we shared with our co-gardeners/landlord and gave others away.

The beans were a delight today because they had appeared to be sluggish, though I have to remind myself that it wasn't until June 12 last year when the first garden was planted, and this year, we planted a full two months earlier. Something must have worked this time around because our tomato plants this year are racing ahead of all else, and this is quite contrary to last year when they lagged and produced some but sputtered out after a month or two. This year, our two plants are getting bigger and bigger each day, and appreciably so, even to the naked eye.

But the first of any of this year's crop was the strawberries, which have turned up a nice, well paced few fruits each week—enough to get a few for treats, but not enough to be put to waste. So far none have been big, but even as medium sized fruits, they have been incredibly rich in color and flavor.

Some of the others are taking more time. The broccoli are showing some growth (after looking like they weren't happy here), as are the lettuces, but we hope that they aren't going to flinch when summer kicks in full swing. Maybe the broccoli is enjoying the cool air and cloudy skies. We shall see. The shallots and the onions are doing well, but of course they are underground; their shoots are looking good. They took off well, early on.

The bummer thing about this garden is that it is directly into the soil, and not in a raised bed, or one not prone to grasses and weeds. So, each week, and a few times in between, we have been on the grass and weed patrol. Tis a bummer that those nasties like the rich soil the same as the veggies do. Despite digging up the dirt and turning it a few times before planting, there would be a lot of old, buried garden demons that take a liking to the richest, best fed soil that has been around them in years and years. Oh well.


Home. Work.

In the past few weeks, I have worked in one capacity or another for all 24 hours of the day. Let's survey what I've been up to and the varied hats I have worn since this time last month:

  • Recorded some music at the house here while Adam was still here.
  • Moved assloads of furniture and boxes more than once.
  • Cleaned the apartment to a shine on the way out.
  • Yard work here before properly moving in.
  • Function the in house IT guy for three computers now.
  • Regularly update my church web site.
  • Regularly record the services there too, and edit the recordings and archive them.
  • Function as secretary at the church board of trustees.
  • Helped Suzanne roommate move in to this house even before we are fully moved in.
  • Helped our other roommate Mark move some things too.
  • Did lots of laundry.
  • Started a compost bin.
  • Repaired various things as they appear.
  • Repaired broken wooden furniture that didn't fare well in the moves or storage.
  • Returned to work at the AV company and they put me to work primarily driving a 16' truck for 30 hours in three days, and three trips to Orange county in as many days.
  • Cooked dinner sometimes.
  • Hosted dinners with Kelli.
  • Attended some dinners next door.
  • Function as driver for street banner hanging work that has come my way (and saved my month of January).
  • Moved some furniture overflow to and from this house, and dumped some on my buddy Glenn who needed it more than we did.
  • Started to configure my studio again, slowly but surely constructing my Ikea Erector Set of a desk and moving junk in the garage way too much from one corner and back. Climbing ladders to the topmost rung (where you aint s'post to climb) so I can fabricate a simple bit of control over my lights in there.

Kelli has been beaming on and on about how I cleaned the apartment before she had a chance to. It's like she could never have expected such a thing. For me, there wasn't anything else that could be done. Hell, moving sucks, particularly the way it scatters your life. Getting back to normalcy is a priority. So I just worked around the clock till life seemed normal again. And the project continues! I've been licking my chops about playing music again and having stuff ready to record, but I keep circling that project like a dog matting its bed down by walking in circles. The studio has to be just perfect. Odd, considering it's a dumpy garage with hardly anything of sound dampening material. It makes my old studio look like Hog Heaven! Actually, it does make the old place look classy and refined, but you know, the "studio" is not the material, it's the environment. And I haven't played anything like music for over seven months.

The AV company I work for finally called me up for a few days last week. It seems they got busy beyond belief and needed a driver. While "driver" is part of my job title, ordinarily it is not the only thing I do. However, I far prefer to be out of the shop where the wind can blow and there is no concrete floor punishing my feet and legs. I will primarily have to balance the AV Concepts gig with Greg and his banner hanging work since both are vying for my time the most, but in one of those cruel ironies, on Wednesday this week, I had accepted work with the AVC for the following day and had to turn down Greg who had the first part of two nights of that 3:30 am shit. About the time of turning down the wicked early banner work, my old contact Mitch called and offered me a gig on Thursday—in LA! Shit. Three offers for one day and I could only take one! Oh well, the following day, I woke at 1:15 am to prep for the 5 am load in in Anaheim, then drove back and was near my house at 8 am, and continued to work straight through with no break till 1:15 pm. I came home and slept from 2 pm till about 7 or so, spent some time with Kelli and her visiting friends for dinner, then went to bed to catch a few winks for three hours before running off to do the 3:30 banner hanging gig on Saturday morning. He uh, made it worth my while to get up at 2:45. I at least got home before the sun crested the hills, and got to sleep till noon like good old times.

Later on, Kelli and her friend Ashley made dinner for whoever would show up, and that ended up being the three of us, incoming roommate Suzanne, Phil and Nancy next door, and Glenn. We all had good fun. For us, its nice to open our house up and get our little community together. In fact, we all ended up telling stories about how Okua the dog has left a mark on our lives with her escapes, food stealing and other canine antics. Glenn could tell how she left him with so much fur that he still finds some in his clothing. Kelli and I could tell about how she yanked the Foreman grill to the floor when she heisted all the sausages she could get from it and the plate nearby. Phil and Nancy could tell about her jumping out windows and over fences (so could we—really). Suzanne marveled at it all and still retained her wish that Okua would be a good buddy and would cuddle on her bed... hah. Okua will move in and won't leave!!! This is her house more than any of ours except for Phil's, you see.

Ah, another sleepy January is gone. Except this January was not sleepy in the "real" sense. I don't know that I slept much. Sure, I pretty much didn't have a job but damn, it was work work work all month long! And that doesn't even include the various things I turned down or just couldn't get to. Somehow, people came out of the wood work asking if I knew how to fix this or install that. One guy wanted some electronics fixed. One lady wanted a faucet installed.

But one thing is for sure. I don't do Windows. I do Apple.


Signing On

I left the apartment at 3:17 pm today after my final bit of cleanup.

The last couple of nights have seen me doing some of the street banner hanging work, each night going home and following that dirty work with a couple hours of cleaning house and prepping to move or actually moving things into place. Kelli was off to school for the last few days and so there wasn't much to divert my attention from the moving project. She doesn't know that I already finished off the apartment; she thinks she has a weekend of work ahead of her still. Well, sort of... there is still a lot to get in order at the new house, but I've placed a lot of things. The more we get done the sooner I can get my studio together. I still have to resolve that the wireless system here is not talking to my computer before I take the whole rig into the garage and set up. Right now I have the luxury of hardwiring to the router in a room that I won't be able to occupy for more than a few days.

I'm sooooooooooo tired right now. I've been pulling long days and working from damn near the time I wake up (later and later now that I don't have a day gig to speak of), and working till I drop, usually past 4:30 am or so. One night I stayed up after hanging banners till Kelli left for school at 5 am.


Does Practice Really Make Perfect?

It's hard to believe that I am moving again. On the other hand, it is day and night from what the last experience was. The last move was utterly horrendous in a way that a person could wish that the memory erasing procedure in The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind was real. Or not. You know, you have to measure the good times against the bad ones to appreciate the good. So in that regard, I guess that the grueling experience of the mid summer of 2005 was necessary and maybe good. My old man is still an ass with regards to his little vendetta he is holding against me, but we don't have much to do with him now.

Yesterday I spent some time at the new house raking and cutting some brush and hauling it off. Adam left on Tuesday, and his dad Phil is cleaning out the house. I have a lot of things over there already, mainly in the garage. With most of the trips I am making to the place for various reasons, things are trickling in. Glenn and I are about to take a new truckload or two over today. Kelli started school this week so she is limited as to what she can do, but at least the last days at this apartment are ones when she has off so we can bust out with the final cleaning and stuff, and by then the new house will be cleaned and ready for us to set up camp for real. Our final roommate situation is not finalized, though Phil's partner Nancy has a son that will be one of them for a while, and possibly Suzanne, a friend of Kelli's will be the second.

This moving experience has been a whole lot smoother and rewarding than the last. It only leads me to worry that when the year is up (the intended time that Adam and wife Caroline will live in her native Brazil), it might have to be another challenging move to some other situation where once again there would be no studio, no space, and the feeling of being pushed into an uncomfortable corner. But there's no sense in letting that spoil the fun. With that in the back of the mind though, it does sort of suggest that maybe I need to pare down my material possessions so that I don't have to endure loss, breakage and ironically, clutter (!) such as I have these last few months.


Bloody Hell

One man moving crew over here. You should see me cook up a mirrored dresser all on my own. In fact, it's too bad I didn’t have a video camera and there was no one to watch me sling the thing around and into my truck and out again, and to take it apart just “so” so it can navigate impossible curves. Of course if anyone ever steals my piano cart, I will be like Samson without his long hair.

I don’t know how many people I’ve helped move, and one of them got something like seven moves out of me, but where the fuck are any of these clowns now that I have to move? I get this stuff to do all by myself. My car-accident injured wife can’t do it. Shit, I used to get paid in pizza and sodas or beer when I did this sort of work for people and was done at the end of the day. But now I am STARTING my moving work at 11 pm so I can work in the relative cool and calm of the night. This has been like pulling teeth for weeks now. In the end, I am paid with a space that is about 1/4 what I have now, and 1/10 as functional, and a few miles more from the things I enjoy, even if it's somewhat fewer miles from where I will work. I have to do work I don’t anticipate liking so I can live in a tiny place with no amenities, all this at the end of the industrial era. I am not happy about this. The last thing I want to do now is work for a company that exists solely as a tool to stroke the corporate ego in the BEST of times when in fact, the WORST of times are ahead for corporate America. I feel like I should be doing my peak oil related work full time, or at least learning something useful that could help me keep an edge in my future scheme. But no. Go work for a company committed to using energy for utterly useless things, just so I can pay 3 times what I pay now for 1/4 the space.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Time to go curl up in a corner and die. Who would mourn the loss of some pinko commie America hating liberal anyway? The irony is the only thing that holds me together some days is the fact that my chosen mission in life is to announce peak oil and its fallout to the world, and most people laugh it off like a big joke. Even Kelli doesn’t get it somedays and we get into utterly ridiculous arguments about it and why it's got the place in my life that it does. Then she sends me a link to an article about some totally useless alternative fuel that still relies on oil for its feedstock. It's like, we argue about peak oil and how it will affect life, or that it gets me depressed, then she sends me links to more of it. HELLO??? You want me depressed or not?


Hot Damn

Hot damn it's a lot of work to move out of a four bedroom house that has been lived in continuously for 36 years.


Hog Heaven II

The old studio used to be on the other side of this wall where the control area isWell it seems all is not lost afterall. Hog Heaven has a new lease on life, so it seems. The old room and the wall it used to hide behind in my carport/garage has been obliterated and hardly any of it remains even evidence that there was once a studio there. There is a pile of drywall, studs, and other junk sitting where my drums used to sit.

A few years ago I would have been pissed out of my mind that the studio was gone. I sort of wanted to be pissed as hell, but with the old man, it never seems to do much good. Besides, he was the one who fucked it up anyway, and he had to take all this illegal construction shit down. He had always promised me the studio space would be contingent on real flimsy circumstances he himself would put in place. Namely, it was supposedly built to serve my needs as long as my grandmother was alive. Well, this particular week is four years since she died, so I reckon I got a four year extension on my lease.

So much more spacious in here!The room was always total ass when it came to ventilation (none), sonic aptitude (none), and aesthetic beauty (only good if you like pigs, really). There had been times when I WAYYYYYYY overshot the carrying capacity of the room, and while it was nice for one person, the times when I had a trio or quartet in there all playing at once, it was just a total endurance test.

The week or so when the place got emptied out I just brought stuff in the house and set it aside, not knowing what to do but to pile shit in the closet. But then Kelli and I got the unrented room to ourselves, so we got to set up her little office/workspace in there, and she gave up the big remodeled room (formerly garage, but always a big room to me). I got to thinking, that if I could get that space, I could at least put together the stuff I know I can use, and sneak my way back into using it for more and more stuff. So I set out to basically rebuild my entire studio in the big room. It's a nice step up. The old room was an absolute square of 11' dimensions, and this is 15'x17', with nice French doors, shelved cabinets, and a closet. It has fake hardwood floors, and it looks a hell of a lot nicer. There's a couch too. I have enough space to be more liberal with the arrangement. I have the monitors spaced over a foot from the wall (unheard of in the little room). The drums are up just beside and behind where I sit in the center of the room. The electric piano is off to the right, the rack to the left. The guitar amp sits left of that, and the iso cabinet is tucked into a corner and buried with a gobo and tons of blankets, all with a mic on the speakers. Behind the drums, I put up my big 2x4 stud-with-guitar-hooks for six guitars. The only thing that bugs me is that with almost NO storage space in the house, I can't really keep my drum bags, guitar bags and cases, and other leftover stuff anywhere but in the main room, so I still get clutter. But the functionality is great.

Glenn and I set up the place about two weeks ago and we got to find out that even the drums were fairly well contained in this room. It isn't as leakproof as the other room was, but it isn't too bad at all if I stick to my usual habits. The drums are wide open and ringy, and with the room's hard walls and floor, the kit explodes. The space allows me to be more creative with mic'ing the kit and the room. The overall space is greater, so I don't get such obvious and dreadful acoustical mess with reflections and standing waves when I am monitoring. I wish I could get the speakers spread out by about 18" more, and sit further back. If I get bold, I might try to do some full band jam stuff to see if I can get away with it. Even if not, I can still record a good sized group with direct feeds, and live drums. I still have the channel count and headphone distro to get a lot of people in on one recording, if need be.

So this was a pleasant surprise. I didn't really think it would come this far, but on the last three weekends, Glenn and I have been getting it together and making some shit happen. This is cool. Of course, my rates are going up now. (That means Tim Robertson has to pay more, bastard.)