Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Missed Photo Opportunities

We'll be heading back to New York very shortly, so we decided to go to our boat in Green Cove Springs to fetch stuff.  I was amazed at how much we had on there.  We took off a wicker sofa, loveseat, rocker, chair, end table, and coffee table.  Boxes and boxes of dishes, food, utensils, and other kitchen stuff.   We took the convection oven and even the bread box.  Then, finally, I took the dorm room sized refrigerator that was my beer fridge on the boat.  It will be the beer fridge in the garage.

Yes, on the ride back to Eureka, we were pummeled by huge thunderstorms.  They're predicted everyday until Sunday.  I need to pick one day to fetch the Whaler, unless the boat sells first, which it might.

I pulled the Kia towing the box trailer into the yard, close to the door.   Pam went to let the dogs out.

"David, we have a problem!"


""The dogs locked the door to the RV!"

Uh oh.  It must be they were jumping up, trying to force open the door, and hit the lock.  This is especially bad because "the Boat" has only one door, and the only keys to the RV were inside.  Daughter Megan was able to slide open a window on the driver's side.  She stood on a chair while I held it and she crawled in head first.  She had to stop halfway in to fend off the excited (and no doubt bewildered) dogs.   Her butt was hanging out and her legs flailing.  I totally missed a fantastic photo opportunity.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Denny The Welder

Earl and I were inspecting the little used boat trailer I had bought and were planning how to go about reinforcing it when our neighbor, Denny, saw us.  

"What are ya'all doin?" he asked, with his deep North Carolina southern drawl.

"We're figuring out how to reinforce this trailer," said I.  Denny was there in a heartbeat.

"Ya'all aren't goin' to weld nuthin' with that Mickey Mouse welder ya'all bought.  Bring it over to my place."

Denny is retired Army, but also a retired boilermaker.  Denny's place is man heaven, with any tool you want and an assortment of things like welders.  And he knows how to use them.  So I dragged the trailer to Denny's.   It was too hot to work on it on Friday, and again on Saturday, with afternoon temps in the mid-ninties.  But this morning, I hied myself over there to grind off the galvanizing where Denny was going to weld.  Later that day, even though it was still in the ninties, Denny called me over to help him weld.  Help, as in hand him tools and such.

Denny welded channel steel to reinforce the frame and then we rolled it on it's side to weld the bottom.

"Uh oh, I don't like this!" said Denny.


"This frame was welded once before, and the weld is cracked down  here.  Fetch the grinder and clean this up and I'll fix it."

Denny has many amazing projects going on, and is a real talented guy.  Between Denny and Earl, I can get anything fixed.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Boat Trailer

Since Earl sold his fishing boat, I've been kicking around the idea of fetching the 13' Boston Whaler off of our trawler, Drift Away.   Drift Away is on the hard and the Whaler is on the roof, tied down in chocks.  The only problem is that I don't have a trailer.

Earl and I spent the past two days driving all over, looking for a small but heavy duty boat trailer.  The Whaler weighs about 350 pounds and the 50 HP Johnson a couple of hundred.  That's a lot of weight.  We drove to all the places that Earl thought we might find a used one, but no luck.

Our neighbor, Wanda, was here this morning and she said that a neighbor a couple of blocks away was setting up a garage sale and had a boat trailer.  Earl and I went over.  It looked perfect.

"How much?" I asked.

"I forget.  I wrote it on that piece of tape on the front," he replied.

I walked up and looked at it.  I didn't have my reading glasses.  I squinted.  Is that $400?  Not bad.  No wait, there are two small zeroes.  Probably a 2 or a 3 before the 4000.   No.  Is this $40?

"$40?" I asked quizzically.

"Yeah, that's it."

Earl's eyes got wide and he started to say something but I waved at him to shut the heck up.

"I'll take it."

I need to modify it a bit.  The Whaler's hull looks like this.

I need to position the longitudinal pads under the hull where I drew the vertical lines.  the boat's beam is 5' 5", so I'm guessing that they're a little over a foot off center.

Earl and I are also going to reinforce the frame.  I'm going to weld a couple of struts from  the trailer frame in front of the wheels to the tow bar part.  I also need to raise the pads quite a bit so the Whaler clears the tires, and that will require some welding too.

I'm glad I bought that little $20 welder at that lawn sale last week.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What Are The Odds?

You're sitting in your cubicle, bustin' your butt, working working working.  You're thinking that you can't wait until you can retire and go cruising.  You can retire at 62, but 65 would be better.  Your social security check will be a few hundred dollars a month more.

Two scenes.  Bear with me.

Scene One.

A few weeks ago, a group of us rode horses around the Griffin Ranch in Fort McCoy, Florida.  We went out through a gate at the back of the ranch and down a dirt road.  Most town roads are dirt here.  Along the way, we passed a woman working in her yard.  We stopped and chatted a bit about how nice her place was looking, and how cute her little dog was.

Scene Two.

Like everyone, I have two sets of grandparents.  My Irish grandparents were very family oriented.  Since Ireland has a matriarchal society, we all met every week at the home of the eldest Gibson.  I knew all of my Gibson relatives because showing up at my great-grandma's house wasn't an option, it was a requirement.  I can even remember young relatives showing up with dates to pay their respects to great-grandma, not even take their coats off, and then leave.  I remember my dad driving through a foot of snow with chains on his tires on the required Saturday night, even though my mom was in the maternity ward in labor with my sister.  But I digress.

My Chase grandparents were the opposite.  My grandfather immigrated to the United States from Krakow Poland.  They were tight lipped about everything.   My wife then was doing our family tree,  and every question asked was answered with "What do you want to know that for?".  Nothing family was discussed.  Ever.

When their kids, my uncles, grew up, they scattered all over.  My mom and Uncle Ed still lived nearby in upstate New York, but my Uncle Joe moved to Arizona never to be seen again.  Lee moved to Lynn Massachusetts and John to Cleveland, and it was very rare that we ever saw them.  Maybe twice in 20 years.  Frank lived in New York for a time and I saw him a few times, but then moved to Massachusetts, and then to someplace in Florida.

Enter Al Gore's internets and Facebook.

Becky, my daughter, was doing our family tree on and bumped into Sharon, one of my cousins, Uncle Ed's daughter.  Becky and Sharon live only a few miles apart, since both grew up in Saratoga.  One thing led to another, and all of a sudden I have all these Chase cousins I'm now "friends" with thanks to Facebook.  We have a lot of catching up to do!

Now to tie it all together.

One of my cousins is named Justeen.  She said my Uncle Frank had moved to Ocala, where she grew up.  Ocala?   Seriously?  Ocala is only fifteen or so miles from here!  What are the chances!

Where does Justeen live?  Fort McCoy.  Fort McCoy is right next to Eureka and where Griffin Ranch is.  Its only three miles from here!   You have to be kidding.

Where in Fort McCoy?  On the dirt road behind Griffin Ranch.

No way.  Which house?

The one with the lady working in the yard.  I've already met my cousin, without realizing it.  You can't make this stuff up.

So we're getting together at the Fort McCoy/Eureka Community Service Center on Friday evening.  My Uncle Frank, Justeen's dad, passed away a couple of years ago.  He was only five years older than me, so we hung around together quite a bit.  I have a number of Uncle Frank stories to tell Justeen.

Oh, and for all you who feel you need to work until 65 so you can get the maximum social security benefit, Frank had just retired when he had a massive heart attack and died.  He hadn't even received his first retirement check.  You might want to consider that time is more valuable than money.

A Broken Rib

Ya'all might recall that Pam was bucked off a horse at the ranch on Saturday.  Pam doesn't get bucked off, but the horse bolted as Pam was getting on and wasn't in the saddle.  It hurt so bad that she cried, but she got back on the horse and went for a trail ride with guests.  On Monday, I took her to the ER.  She has a broken rib.

Get back on the horse?  Yes.  For two reasons.  One is that you can't put the horse back in the corral.  That will teach the horse to buck off his rider if he doesn't want to ride.  The second reason is for the rider.  If you want to ride, you can't be afraid of horses.

We're intending to head back to New York in a couple of weeks, with me driving the motorhome and Pam towing Jeremiah the horse with the Kia.  Those plans may change.  A broken rib can be excruciatingly painful, especially if one sneezes or coughs, to the point of losing control while driving.  Another weeks or so should determine what we're doing.

This was Earl's and my latest project.  Moving a chain link fence.

The fence was connected from the front of the property to the garage.  We moved that section to the front, connecting it to the house.  You can see where it was, and where it is.  You can also see the remnants of the stove top install leaning against the house.  That's in the county dump now.

Earl and I are boat trailer hunting today.  If I can find a small one capable of carrying a heavy boat, the Boston Whaler on Drift Away will become our new fishing boat.

No Navi-Nut (patent pending) or charts required on a fishing boat.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

the Look

Pam is an experienced rider, and very good at it.  Still, shit happens.

Yesterday, Pam was taking a group for a ride at the Griffin Ranch.  She got everyone mounted and then was about to get on Gracie, one of the gentlest horses at the ranch.  Gracie spooked, started backing up, and then bucked before Pam had her seat.  Pam went flying, landing on the ground and hitting some tree roots.

She laid there for a few moments to take an assessment and then mounted Gracie and went for the trail ride.  Gracie was nervous and twitchy and at one point bucked again, but Pam stayed on board.

She came home and wasn't moving too well, but she took a hot shower and later we returned to the ranch to celebrate Patricia's birthday (Carl Griffin's SO).  We ate dinner with some fascinating guests, professional underwater photographers and videographers.   But soon, Pam signaled to me that it was time to leave.  She was a hurting unit as everything started to set up and harden.

At home on RV "the Boat", I gave Pam two Aleve and one of my back pills and put her to bed.  That got her through the night, but this morning she's in a lot of pain.  More pills and time should take care of this.

I told her that maybe it is time to give up riding horses.  I got "the look".  You guys all know "the look".  It is like when our wives tell us we should give up beer.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Earl's $5 sink

Everyone loves a bargain.

Earl and I were riding in the car together when he spotted a yard sale.  "Pull over!" he commanded!  So I did.  A midst the old lawnmowers and what not was a stainless steel sink.

"How much?" asked Earl.

"Five dollars."


So Earl bought a pretty rough stainless steel kitchen sink, complete with a faucet, sprayer, and plumbing.  He spent the next few days with a wire brush cleaning it up.  Then it was off to Lowes to buy the plumbing necessary to hook it up.  After all, why go through all this work if the old stuff leaks?  Earl picked up brand new water lines and various adapters.  I then convinced him to look at a new faucet.

"C'mon Earl.  That old faucet is pitted and looks like crap," said I.

"I cleaned it up," said Earl.

"Its still pitted, and besides, its too low.  Judi won't be able to get a pot under it to wash it."

Well, $92 later, we left Lowes.  With a new faucet.

We spent the better part of two days removing the old sink and installing the new one.  It also required several trips to the Fort McCoy Hardware store.  Earl's total?  About $130 for a $5 sink.

"You sure like watching me spend my money," declared Earl.

Yes.  Yes, I do.

"But look how nice it looks!" declared I.

I can't print Earl's response, but it isn't physically possible.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lunar Eclipse

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!   No, I wasn't going to stay up for any lunar eclipse.  From my experience, they're nothing much.  The moon gets a reddish tinge.  Big deal.  I can always go online to see what I missed.  But we did have a very nice full moon with a rainbow around it.  I could photograph the full moon, or photograph the rainbow, but not both at the same time.  It is one drawback about photography.  The moon is a big ball of light and so you have to reduce aperature and increase shutter speed, but when you do so, everything around the light source becomes black.

And if I adjust the camera's settings to capture the rainbow, the moon becomes a white dot.

I can copy the detailed moon onto the rainbow pic, but that just looks stupid.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Man o' War

I'm an animal lover.  I think I got this from my Grandfather Chase, a Polish immigrant who came to America, married a farm girl, bought a farm, raised pigs and geese and rabbits and cattle... and couldn't slaughter anything.  My grandma had to do it.  He didn't have the heart.

As you know, I've been learning a bit about horses lately.  Horses are definitely more complicated than dogs and cats.  From what I've learned, horses love to have jobs.  For a draft horse, its pulling things.  For a trail horse, its riding.  For a race horse, its running.

I lived in Saratoga Springs for twenty years.  I went to the track only a handful of times.  I'm not a gambling person and don't understand why anyone is.  But the times I went, I enjoyed the horses and the people and  the pageantry of it all.

For some reason, on Facebook, I mentioned that Secretariat was perhaps one of the best race horses of all times, winning 20 of 21 races, losing in Saratoga to Onion.  Then I got thinking about Man o' War.  Who was the better horse?

Well, I googled a bit about Secretariat, and he was indeed a spectacular horse.  But when I googled Man o' War I was blown away.  This was a super horse.

He also ran 21 races, and won 20.  He lost to a horse named Upset at Saratoga, hence the phrase "being upset" by an underdog.  But by all accounts, Man o' War was cheated.  He was sideways in his starting position when the race started, and was poorly ridden and boxed in for most of the race.  When Man o' War  broke free, he accelerated and finished only a half a length behind Upset.  He went on to beat Upset six more times.  You can read an account of this race here.

But what was interesting to me is that Man o' War's owners and trainer told his jockey to hold the horse back at each race.  He measured 16.2 hands and 1,200 pounds, a big muscular horse.  He had a 28 foot stride, believed to be the longest ever.  He won each race easily, and the owners were afraid that such a dominant horse would have a hard time finding competition , as well as odds.

No one wanted to race against Man o' War at one point.  At Belmont, Man o' War could find only one challenger for the Lawrence Realization, a horse named Hoodwinked.  In this two horse race, Man o' War beat Hoodwinked by 100 lengths and set a world record for the 1 5/8ths mile that stands to this day.

The more I learn about horses, their temperament, their competitive spirits, and their attitudes, the more I like them.

I rode Pam's Morgan, Jeremiah, a few days ago.  Pam is a very experienced rider and once said that Jeremiah was head strong and nothing a novice rider like me should be on.  He was obstinate and a handful.  Well, a couple of weeks ago, Pam put a small child on Jeremiah,  He was as meek as a sheep.  Later, I rode Jeremiah recently and he was obedient and a smooth horse, but when I was unsaddling him, he gave me a look that said "I could have tossed your ass anytime I wanted, but I didn't, because I know you don't know what you're doing.  You just keep the treats coming and no one will get hurt."  I got the message loud and clear.

Some of this  may be coming from me watching the Sopranos for the first time off of Netflix, I dunno.  But it seemed very real to me.  Don't mess with the Mafia, and don't mess with horses.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Internet Went Down

The internet went down and I had to spend time with family.  They seem like good people.

Facebook joke.

Isn't social media amazing?  Besides reconnecting with old friends and distant relatives, we get these really funny memes.

In other dull news, I'm shooting pool for many hours a day, mainly  with Earl.  Earl and I need to replace the stove top on Judi's  range.  I can't remove a stupid wood screw holding in a frame for the microwave in the RV, even with an EZ-Out.  I'm not sure what to do about that.  I'm blaming my  cheap made-in-China drill bits.   I still need to do our taxes.  I use Turbo Tax.

And... well... nothing.  Such is life in Eureka, Florida.  Pretty dull by any standards, but fine for this old retired guy.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Eight Beers That You Should Stop Drinking Immediately

I was just sent this by Pamela on Facebook.  This is very disturbing.  Those of you who have been reading this blog, and particularly my Drift Away blog, know that I love my victory beers.  Corona is my victory beer of choice.  Guiness stout is my victory beer for special occasions.  And PBRs are my everyday victory beers over small conquests, like getting  out of bed in the morning.

So, presented to you as a public service from Bleecker Mountain Life, here are eight beers you should stop drinking.

Monday, April 7, 2014

It's All About Having Fun

Having fun.  It's something we all love to do.  Who wouldn't like having fun?  We've all been doing it since we were babies.  We do it different ways too, because what's fun for me might not be fun for you.  For example, I like to play golf.  For me, its fun.  For you, it might be torture and you'd call it cow pasture pool.  Different strokes for different folks.

I think horseback riding is fun.  We went riding yesterday from the Griffin Ranch.  Me, Pam, Trish, and young Carlie.  I rode Pam's horse Jeremiah, who is a very observant and smart horse.  If he has an experienced rider on him, he can be a little snotty and  challenge the rider.  If he has a young child aboard, he's as gentle as a lamb.  If he has a novice rider like me on him, he's forgiving and patient.  Horses are amazing animals.

We have another trail riding business in Fort McCoy called Making Tracks, owned by Corey and Tina Rhoads.  I found this very cool video done by them of folks having fun, riding horses and swimming in the  Ocklawaha River.

Yes, there are alligators in the Ocklawaha, but alligators don't like to have fun and so leave when the horses arrive.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sassy the Tramp

I'm a grandfather! We arrived in Florida in mid-January, and our un-spayed female cat escaped from the motorhome. We had intended to get her spayed down here, but it didn't happen. What did happen is that the little tramp got herself knocked up. Well, she had three kittens today.

Its my understanding that Bleecker kittens fetch a huge price, often in the thousands of dollars, but because of the  father, who is of unknown heritage and who is from Eureka Florida, we're going to let them go for a fraction of that price. Aw, what the heck. I'm in a good mood. Free. They'll be weaned the first week of June, and we'll be back in upstate New York then, so we'll even deliver them right to your doorstep for free.

Please don't all come clamoring at once. This is on a first come, first served basis. Only three of you will be awarded one of these kittens. Heck, I might even toss in the mom to some lucky person chosen at random.

While Sassy was squirting out babies, Earl and I finished up the pool table. 

We played many games of eight ball.  We're both obviously very rusty, but it helped that we didn't level the table and all the balls collected at one end and rolled into the corner pockets.  Yes, those are victory beers.  And yes, we eventually leveled the table, which makes the game much more difficult.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Putting the Pool Table on Wheels

Work on the pool table continues.  You wouldn't think it would be too difficult for two grown men to figure out how to put wheels on a pool table, but it was.  This is a regulation nine foot table, with a one inch thick slate top.  It's heavy.  The first wheels we installed were replacements for the feet.  This didn't work.  As soon as we tried to move the table, the feet started to collapse.  They were simply too long.

We decided to simply forget about being able to adjust the height of the feet and lag bolted the wheels on.  If we need to level it, which we probably will, we'll just jack it up and shim it, and mark the floor so we can put it in the same place every year.

Why wheels on a pool table?  Since its in the garage, we want to be able to roll it to the side when we leave next month and can put Earl and Judi's car in the there.

I scored a great deal on NOS (New Old Stock) pool balls on eBay the other day.   They've been sitting on a shelf in a warehouse for who knows how long.  $11, plus $10 shipping.  Cool beans.

We also stopped at the dreaded Walmarts for a rack, bridge, and chalk.  We're good to go.  All we need to do now is to make sure the three slate pieces are flat, install the felt and rails, and rack 'em up!

We'll be shooting pool by Sunday.... or Monday.   Hey, we're retired.  We have all the time in the world.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Cheap Chinese Made Junk

I'm a cheap bastard, and that means I look for value, not lowest price.  Sometimes I'm tempted though.

There's a Harbor Freight in nearby Silver Springs.  Its a man's toy store, full of all kinds of tools and gadgets.  The first thing I bought there was a power washer to wash the crud off the RV.  It lasted for one washing before it bit the dust.  Made in China.

The next thing I bought at Harbor Freight was a cordless drill.  It lasted for two uses before it bit the dust, the clutch hopelessly slipping.  Made in China.

The next thing we bought was a small hand vacuum from Walmart.  Yeah yeah, I apologize for that, but sometimes you just have to go there.   It lasted for one vacuuming and started smoking.  Made in China.

There are many yard sales and roadside sales around here, and Earl and I stopped at one.  There was a very old hand vacuum, a Hamilton Beach model HV-1 circa late 1950s.

"How much?" I asked.

"Ten dollars," he replied.



Here they are, side by side.

The Hamilton Beach was made in Racine, Wisconsin.  It was made to last, a quality product.  The piece of junk on the left was made to quickly wear out so you'd have to buy another.

I'm going to be spending a lot more time at flea markets and yard sales.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

When The Cat's Away

When the cat is away, the mice will play.

Pam, Judi, and Megan have been in Louisiana visiting son Sean.  That leaves Earl and I here all alone and unsupervised.  You saw that we've been putting together a pool table.   It's going into the garage, which is used mainly for storage since places here in Florida don't have basements or attics.  In a month, it will also be used to house Judi's car.  I had the brilliant idea of putting the pool table on wheels so we could shove it off to the side.  Yesterday Earl and I went out to buy wheels.

First, we went to Sparr Feed to buy dog food.  Then it was off to Ocala to Harbor Freight.  That's next to Beef O'Brady's, my favorite pub here, so we stopped there first for lunch.  Then Harbor Freight for wheels, then Fort McCoy Hardware to get a 14 mm tap to tap the holes for the Chinese made wheels, then Fort McCoy Market to buy a case of victory beers, and then home.  It was 93 degrees, much too hot to work, so we just sat around and drank beer.

In the evening, I watched a Netflix movie, The Day the Earth Stood Still for the umpteenth time.  I love Netflix and I love old movies.  I love Pam too, but she's not here.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Big Boys and Their Toys

Big boys, meaning Earl and I.  If you've followed our Drift Away blog, you know that boat is loaded with toys, from the Boston Whaler on the roof (which may be coming here as a fishing boat) to the $15,000 in electronics.  No, we haven't sold the boat yet.  Close, but not yet.

So what are we working on?   This.  A nine foot regulation pool table, with a one inch slate top.  Each one of those three pieces of slate have to weigh 200 pounds.

First we set up the base, and then the frame.  It was then time to lift up the slate.  Once in position, we leveled each to the one adjoining.

In the pic above, Earl is taking a grinder to the joints to get them perfect.

I guess you're supposed to use bee's wax to seal the joints.  We figured caulk is just as good so that's what we used.  We let it sit overnight, scraped off the excess, and we'll put the felt and rails on later today.  There's no rush.  We don't have any pool balls or rack.  I ordered a set of pool balls off eBay for $11, and Earl and I will look around for a rack.

Boys and Their Toys

No really.  This little boy visits our neighbor often and whenever he does he comes over to play with our dogs.  He was picking up the dogs' toys  and tossing them in the dogs' pool.  Ruby doesn't want her toys in the pool and pulls them back out.  The little boy thought this was a great game.

They did this for a good hour.

Taunting has to be part of the game.  Finally he tired of it and went out by the road and waved at cars, who tooted their horns and waved back.  I fetched him from the roadside and his father fetched  him  home.

Here's a photo of some woodpecker.  That is not a tree.  That's Judi's power pole.

Earl and I are bachelors this week.  All the women went to Louisiana to visit son Sean.  He's serving there in the Air Force, and they haven't seen him in over two years.  They're having a great time, and Earl says "Without the women to bother us we can get things done."

Tomorrow, I'll show you  what.