February 29, 2016

Stella Crosses "The No Fly Zone"

The blog starts off strange today when I open the bookmark to the blog and the title is in a different font ... how does that happen? A cache problem?

The early morning walk is now part of the daily routine. Sadie is the leader basically and knows the routine has changed. The second time they go outside, they don't take off for the field with their noses to the ground like they use to do until a few days ago ... they stand and stare at me ... I know what they want from that look they are both giving me. So a walk it is.

The air was cold but at least the strong 30-40 mph winds had died down sometime last night about the time it started to rain lightly. I have a lot of sticks to pick up today out of the yard and add to my burn pile.

With blue skies and a lot of clouds, we took off. Although we follow the same path, now twice per day, every walk is different. Each walk has different things happening within that 20-25 minutes. It didn't take long today to see that, when Stella was walking on the return path out away from the brush line.

When I said "Stella, come on" ... she went trotting over to Sadie ... back to the normal trek. Today she decided a break in the walk was needed so her and Sadie could play a little. Due to the short distance between my zoom lens and them, I was unable to fit them into a lot of photos.

In a split second, they stop playing and start walking together.

It is routine for her to head right after the area of what I think is the deer sleeping area. Only today she was all the way to the corner of the field after making that right turn ... each day she had been going a little further out. It wasn't a big deal because she always comes running when called ... just like today.

When I started letting Stella walk with no leash a few months ago I knew there was a possibility she might take off sometime and I would have to run to get her. No ... in fact I knew it was a sure thing, that it would happen eventually. It wasn't that big of deal, it was just the shock of turning around and not seeing her. The last time that happened was a few days ago when she had ran and snuck up behind me by the time I turned around.

At the place we turn to take the return path she has always wandered to the right toward that big tower holding the power lines ... even when she was on the 25' retractable leash, that area was always an interest to her. She will always hangout in that area as Sadie and I continue walking. I can then turn around and get some photos of her running.

Something different happened today though.

I turned around and didn't see a bloodhound anywhere. I checked behind me to see if she had snuck up on us ... she wasn't there, only Sadie. I was pretty sure I knew where she had headed. In prior years I had seen groups of deer running north and then jumping over the fence into the woods. I was hoping after I crested the small hill that is where I would see her.

As you can see in that last photo ... she is WAY outside of her boundary. 

I wasn't in shape nor the mood to be running through the woods trying to find her. Luckily as I crested that small hill, my camera picked her up sniffing the ground a long way off but at least not in the woods. I yelled her name and she came running ... almost knowing she may be in trouble because she had crossed "the no-fly zone".

When I said "lets go home" both her and Sadie trotted out in front of me for the slow walk back to the house. Each time she started to veer off the beaten path, he would return each time I said "no". They took their time but ended up making it back to the house with Sadie finishing with a short sprint.

With the temps in the high 40's and well below Heidi's 70° threshold, she remained in bed sleeping while the bloodhounds and I walked. The two walks per day should help Sadie lose some weight this spring, summer and fall.

It's another beautiful morning here in 'the tropics' of Southern Indiana.

February 28, 2016

Some Hidden Gems Found In The Shed

I usually try to keep the carport shed somewhat organized, clean and sorted. Sometime last fall, for whatever reason the organization turned into a 'pile' or stuff was placed where ever there was a spot that it fit.

I had made a list recently of Scott's lawn care items I was going to buy in March. I've decided this year I am going to kill the grub worms in March instead of letting the yard moles take over my back yard and making it a 7,500 sq ft sponge. Another words, I'm going chemical warfare in the yard this year ... from grub worms to crabgrass/weeds.

Another thing I was planning on doing was paying for an overpriced oil change for the Mini Cooper S. It's usually over $125 at the dealership, over $125 at another 3rd party shop that deals with Mini Cooper repair/maintenance, even if I furnish the oil and filter. I have a local mechanic that works on everything from pickup trucks, classic cars, foreign and american made cars ... even the only other Mini Cooper that is located in this small rural town.

Remembering those two things as a reference are important for this afternoon's posts. For every good thing that happens ... there always seems to be a bad thing to close it off. So the list of yard care items and the oil change are the keywords in this rambling.

I did get a lot done. I did not get everything done that I had listed yesterday, because after finding some 'hidden gems' in the shed while cleaning it out ... my efforts changed direction midstream.

With Stella on the tether just in case she wanted wander while I worked, Sadie ate sticks and Heidi roamed the driveway to get some fresh air.

It's easy to clear out the shed, one item at a time ... then sweep the floor, check for mice traffic, and see if there is any rot along the bottom boards of siding since it is wood siding on the side of the carport, not the aluminum siding that covers the house. The more I brought out of the shed, the harder the wind blew from the Southwest ... that is something else to remember in this story. It could have been disaster but wasn't.

I was amazed that I found this much yard care chemicals in my shed. The grub worm killer was an unopened bag. The largest bag of Scott's crabgrass killer was an unopened bag, as was the 10-10-10 fertilizer and then a smaller bag of lawn turf builder I had used last summer on the new piece of yard I had planted.  So my list was complete from the first paragraph of this post ... I didn't spend a dime. That bag of Kingsford Grill Charcoal was interesting ... I haven't had a grill in at least 8 years.

During this shed clear out I also found some brand new Rino Ramps to use, hopefully driving my Mini Cooper S upon for the times I wanted to change my oil. I found the ramps on sale two years ago but had not used them yet. They were still bundled with their packaging and nylon tiestrap. I decided today I was going to place them in front of the Mini Cooper and see what the chances were of me driving the car up on the ramps without going over the other side of them ... or even running into the house.

I was also surprised about all the stuff that fit in 1/2 of that small shed.

The front part of my shed opens on the south end and has just enough room to fit my 22" mower, weed eater and cans of gasoline. Up above you will see the original box of yellow aluminum siding from 1975 when the the house was built. The snow skis on the right corner make a great hanger/holder for my 100' electrical extension cord.

Things cleared out pretty easy ... this is just one half of the shed

I decided to let Heidi go back inside like she wanted, unhook Stella from the tether before I started Phase II of the shed project. Of course with their freedom, Sadie and Stella had to inspect everything that I had moved out of the shed. That inspection didn't last long before they decided they had enough work for the day.

 Everything seemed to have it's own place as I put things back together.

Everything went in like a puzzle with room to spare. No sign of mice traffic (thanks to the feral field cat) and I saw no signs of rot on the bottom boards of the shed siding.

By finding the Rino Ramps in the shed I decided I would try to see if they would work as intended. I wasn't sure if I needed someone else to be a 'spotter' as I drove the car up onto the top of the ramp. I was amazed they worked as designed. They never slid as I drove the Mini Cooper S up on the flat part of the ramp. From that point forward I canceled the raking of the area in back by the old fence post in preparing to plant grass. 

I blocked the back tires with concrete landscape edging ... I knew I kept those broken pieces for a reason.

It was too windy to plant grass today anyway. My attention turned to changing the oil in the Mini Cooper S, since it was up on ramps, the rear tires blocked and I could fit my fat ass under the car to reach the oil drain plug. I was also able to inspect underneath the car for the first time since I bought the car in March 2013. That's next to impossible with the car sitting down on all four tires due to the low clearance. It's never a good idea driving over the top of roadkill in this car, it's better to swerve if you have to ... even into on coming traffic, accelerate if that happens, to miss roadkill.

Things were going good so far ... actually they were going way too smooth. I mean finding the 'hidden gems' inside the shed would have been good enough for a good day but changing the oil and saving over a $125 ... that is just too much good stuff to happen in one day.  "MURPHY" had to be hanging around somewhere.

During all of this time the winds were still picking up speed. Enough speed I double checked, tripled checked that the Mini Cooper S was stable on the ramps with the rear tires block with landscape edging (concrete). I didn't really want the 'go kart' falling on my chest while I am under the car unscrewing the oil drain plug.

Well ... "what comes up, must come down" so to speak. No...not the car. All of those good things that had happened so far today .... LOL ... yea right, nothing is free!

It started with the wind blowing hard into the carport as it had all morning and picked up my Rubbermaid plastic chair in the corner and blew that out into the driveway. I was under the Mini Cooper as it happened. It wasn't a problem where I was. It was a problem because of what was sitting in that chair .... my camera and spare lens!!!  I sat it there to keep it away from the hounds but close enough to take all of these photos you see in this post.

So not only the chair is laying upside down in my gravel driveway a good 10' away from where it was sitting, but the camera and spare lens are scattered on the gravel driveway about the same distance. After yelling a few choice words (luckily I have no neighbors that close) I checked out the camera and both lenses ... it worked without a hitch. Maybe it needed that 'adjustment' to get the Nikon D3200 to work correctly all the time.

Back to the car. As I started to craw back under the Mini Cooper S I could have swore I saw "MURPHY" leaning over and looking into the engine compartment ... but I am always seeing things in my preferral vision around here. I had all the correct tools within arms reach. I had the drip pan positioned correctly to catch the oil as I took off the oil drain plug. I was on my way of a 30 minute job, saving myself $125 on this oil change ... I even warmed up the car so the oil was warm and would flow freely, getting every last drop out of the engine.

About this time I thought I heard "Murphy" laughing ... but it's windy, it could be the wind ... but it sure did sound like a laugh to me. I glance out from under the car, Stella and Sadie were sleeping on the concrete floor, Heidi was back inside. I slipped that 6-point 1/2" socket on to the oil drip pan plug ... it fit perfect. I figured it might take a little of my strength to get the nut started counter clockwise. Should be no problem.

After all, today has been the perfect day so far of getting things done, in windy but beautiful weather ... this should be an easy 30 minute job!!

I now see "Murphy"s head at ground level, right next to the rear of the passenger front tire staring up at the oil drain plug ... he is in plane *&$@*$# view!!!

The oil drain plug WILL NOT MOVE ... WILL NOT BUDGE ... EVEN WITH A HAMMER TAP ... IT WON'T MOVE!!!!  I get a longer extension handle, press my foot against that handle planning to use my leg strength to break that nut free .... while I am laying on my side under this Mini Cooper S that is just a few inches above my chest. The wind is howling .....

THE NUT WILL NOT MOVE!!! Not even a squeak!!

I decided it was time for lunch ... "Murphy" was no where to be seen. I decided that some left over pizza and one of those bottles that Pepsi are selling now with "made with real sugar" was a better option than trying to get that nut loose ... About the time I pulled that pizza out of the fridge, Stella reminded me the hounds had not eaten their lunch yet ... it was 1:30pm.

So, with food in hand, a cold Pepsi and the hounds fed ... I left the car on the ramps while I posted my problem on the Mini Cooper S R53 forum. I had some suggestions and answers pretty fast. I'll not go into detail on that ... except that I drove the Mini Cooper S down off the ramps, put the ramps away in the shed, put the tools away and called it a day on automobile maintenance. It is ALWAYS like that for me when I try to do just the simple routine maintenance on a car. Nothing is easy when it is me and tools or trying to be a mechanic.

I woke the hounds up for an afternoon walk. They were even less energetic this afternoon on the walk than they were this morning. They were rarely in front of me and the wind was howling through the field. When the big sycamore tree is swaying in the breeze, you know the winds are strong.

Here we are at the right turn of the walk where the hounds are usually running to get to that deer area ... this afternoon they were not in front of me ... walking slowly behind me.

As we turned the corner to come back on the return trip to the house ... then wind is a strong headwind. Maybe you can tell by these two photos. Heidi is walking but her ears are flapping in the wind.

With all the wind, I'll have a lot of these kind of sticks to pick up and add to the burn pile I showed you a few days ago.

Still it was a great day here in 'the tropics' of Southern Indiana.

Now ... off to give Heidi a 20 minute soak and bath.