Sunday, February 26, 2012

15-25 February, 2012 - Fire Department Meeting, Snowmobiles, Routines

The winter doldrums are here.  Lots of routine but not much excitement.  We've been getting anywhere from a skiff to a few inches of snow most nights so the first thing in the morning (after adding wood to the stove!) we sweep the snow off the solar panels and line them up for the sunrise.  The sun is coming up much earlier now which is nice.  We don't run the light as long in the mornings.  After sunrise I'll feed the chickens.  Later in the afternoon I'll fill the wood box on the porch and check for eggs.   I usually make breakfast and Susan does supper.  For lunch we're on our own.  Scott usually eats whatever we're having.  I've been spending a lot of time writing.  I have the rough draft finished on my book so now we're into editing and getting the photos sorted.  There's a lot more work than I anticipated to writing a book.
last time we were in Kalispell we found a three wheel stroller so we've been using it when going on walks.  It works good anywhere the surface is solid.  In winter we still like the backpack for Scott because it keep him warmer.

When we're on the road I usually go ahead in places where visibility is short.  That way we get some advanced warning if anyone is driving in/out.  One of the problems with low traffic is that it's easy to drive too fast between houses because you don't expect to meet anyone on the road.  Where visibility is good we walk together.

Scott decided he wanted to try feeding himself.  I think he even got some in his mouth.

He loves to climb.  This is his favorite window.  He can climb up on the swing seat and survey his domain.  Right now there isn't much except snow to be seen.

He's still trying to get the gun safe to open.  He's seen us open it so he pushes the buttons, sees the little light flashing and very confidently grabs the handle to open the safe.  So far he hasn't gotten frustrated that it hasn't worked so he just tries again.

He's gotten into books.  He has about four or five that are his favorites.  He brings them over then it's time for us to sit down so he can climb up and have us "read" them to him.  If we're reading he'll often sit or lay beside us with his book.

Susan shoveled the snow off the covers over the sand box so Scott could play in it.  Unfortunately the cat found a way in and has been using it for a litter box so we'll have to do some disinfecting and make a better cover before he can play in the sand.

We met our youngest son and his wife at the bar in Fortine to play a little pool.  Scott likes it there because the room where the pool tables are is open and he can walk/run to his hearts content.

Scott was particularly impressed with something so he began clapping.

The fire department has regular meetings where all the area fire chiefs get together for planning joint operations.  They asked Susan to make the meal for this one so she spent some time putting together a meal for 30 people.  She made chili, stir fry, and chicken casserole plus rolls, four pies, pumpkin bars and brownies.  Someone else made the cornbread and the fire department furnished the drinks.  They paid for the food she used and she assembled the meals. 

This is our youngest son's wife herding Scott around.  It was nice to have someone else help watch him for awhile.

I took him out in the shop while the meeting was going on and we entertained ourselves out there a bit.  He likes the shiny chrome on the trucks.  Eventually Susan and I loaded him in the backpack and took him out for a walk then watched him in the Cherokee while the meeting went on.  If you let him stand behind the steering wheel he can play for quite awhile.  You just have to watch out when you start the car because everything he could reach will be turned on.

After the meeting we helped with clean-up and brought the leftovers home.  The leftovers were nice because a couple of the kids came over Saturday so we had enough to feed them all without having to do any cooking.

Scott's breakfast Saturday morning was warmed up rice and chicken from the stir fry. (Same thing I had!)

Susan and I took the snowmobiles out for a run yesterday.  We went probably 15 miles or so through the woods to the east of us.  On the way in we met a kid on a wheeler coming out.  A couple miles up the road we met the rest of his group.  They'd run out of gas on the snowmobile and had sent the kid we met back home for more gasoline.  They were in good spirits and had everything they needed to wait so we went on.  They'd built a warming fire in the road.  Ages ranged from maybe 10 through 14.  A few miles farther up the road we ran into a logging operation.  The red machine in the background is kind of like an excavator only the "arm" has a chain saw type cutter and clamps on the front.  They run it up to the tree, begin cutting and clamp the tree.  Then when the tree is cut through they lift it up and set it on the stack.  It takes the place of a timber faller and the skidder and is much safer for the operator. 

Susan was behind me waiting while I took pictures.  We had problems with the snowmobiles overheating.  The snow was pretty thin and hers (the new one) cools off by snow being thrown on the coolant lines that run along the lower sides.  If the snow is deep and you keep your speed up it works great.  Our snow was thin and we had to watch our speed because there were old wheel ruts in the road.  If you hit them it can throw the snocat off the track.  Then you'll probably hit a tree.  When we were about five miles from home mine started acting up.  It would just die.  I'd coast to a stop and it would restart easily then I'd go about 100 yards and repeat the process.  I sent Susan on back to the cabin and called the kids on the ham radio to tell them what was going on.  The last time it died the starter rope broke.  Fortunately the loose end hung up outside the frame so I retied it to the handle.  I went slow on the ride back home and it didn't die again.  I tried fixing pull cord with a rope I had at home but it wasn't strong enough so I'll have to get some new rope this week.  I need to get it running again and find out what's causing the problem with it.  It's possible it was overheating too but I suspect a fuel problem to be the cause.  Of course the real reason it acted up was because the tank was full of gas.  Nothing wrong ever happens on any of our vehicles unless the gas tank is full.

After dinner we played a couple of games of Scrabble and Clue before they headed back to Kalispell.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

8-14 February, 2012 Chimney Cleaning and Winter Fun

I've been concentrating on my writing lately so I haven't been doing a lot of projects outside.  Susan has been changing rooms around to get a downstairs bedroom ready for Scott when he's old enough.  It's been kind of a chore for her because Scott's crib is in her room where she has to do a lot of the work. The only time she (or me) can get anything done is when Scott is either asleep or one of us is watching him.  We've begun putting him down for his nap in the playpen in the living room so she can get tings done in her bedroom.  Plus, she has the extra laundry to keep up with.  We're explaining ... not complaining!  We love having the little guy here but it's made some changes in the way we do things. 

I decided to clean the chimney this week.  We haven't really had any problems or symptoms of a dirty chimney but it's been awhile since I twas cleaned so I did it anyway.  (Usually the stove doesn't draw well and you get a cloud of smoke when you open the stove door to add more wood. when the chimney needs cleaned.)  Scott heard the ruckus and wanted to see what was going on so Susan brought him upstairs where he could watch through the window.

We have a brush mounted on a piece of conduit.  We have a short rubber hose between the brush and rod to give the brush a little flexibility.  It stays straighter in the chimney that way.  Of course the chimney has to be cold which means we have to let the stove cool off a bit.  There isn't much creosote in the chimney.  It's mostly just ash residue.  Creosote is a black sticky, and either fuzzy looking or looks like flaky stuff on the inside of the chimney.  It's gooey when you try to clean it out so I wear old leather gloves for this part.  Creosote build-up is often the result of burning green wood or filling the stove and letting is smolder for hours.  Our wood is dry and we like to keep a small hot fire rather than let is smolder all day so we seldom have a problem with creosote. Again, what you're seeing in the chimney dry ash. 

I take the top pipe off and run the brush through the chimney a few times.  I'll run it through the top pipe after this to knock out any accumulation there.  It's a lot like running a brush through the bore of a rifle.

We're also putting in a chimney damper this time so I'll need to remove a section of pipe.

I measured down on one side and drilled a hole, then measured around the pipe and marked/drilled another hole on the opposite side.

The damper installed in the pipe.  What this does is restrict the flow of exhaust out of the chimney.  That slows the air flow through the chimney and gives you a little more control over the intensity of the fire in the stove.  If you close it to much though you'll smoke up the house.

Now I put the pipe back on and put in three screws around the seam to hold it all together.  The reason for the screws is in case something explodes in the stove it won't blow the pipes apart.  If that happened it could cause a bit of a problem in the house.

Anytime you clean the chimney there's a mess to clean up around the stove.  I cleaned the inside out and Susan gave the outside area around the stove a good cleaning.  It's hard to keep up with the outside cleaning in the winter because the stove is going most of the time and you can't work close around it without getting burned.

We're trying to get Scott used to sleeping outside of his crib so that we can take him backpacking this summer.  About the only places he'll sleep good is in his playpen and crib.  We have no intention of bringing his crib when we backpack in somewhere so we're trying to get him initiated to crib less sleep now.  It took him awhile to settle down but he eventually did and slept well.

Susan spends quite a bit of time each week doing laundry.  Scott loves playing in the water but this time decided he wanted to help agitate the cloths.  He was doing it by himself just before I got the camera out then he just wanted to look at the camera.

Susan was outside shoveling some snow and when she put the shovel down Scott wanted to give it a try.  Obviously he didn't move much snow but ya' gotta' give him an "A" for effort!

Exercise can be a problem in winter so Susan brought in her stair-stepper.  It had been inside before we got Scott then we had to move it out because we needed the space for other things.  Now it's back inside where she can use it.  Scott had to do a safety check before he let her on it.

We went bowling again this week.  (Don't look at the scores!!!!)

It was too warm for good skiing or snowshoeing so we got the sled out.  Obviously there's no sound in a still photograph but Scott was already going "whee, whee, whee," before we even started down the hill.

Scott with the monkey trap.  He'd dropped something in the empty syrup bottle and was trying to get it out.  He'd get a grip on it the couldn't pull his hand out.  He was getting pretty frustrated before he figured out that he should dump the wood block out of the bottle first then pick it up.

One of the kids in Kalispell had a leaking hot-water heater so we drove down to help fix it.  It turned out that a hose clamp had broken so the repair was cheap (which was good) but frustrating.  The hose was old and stiff and we had a hard time getting it to seal.  Susan had taken Scott over to his mom's so that they could visit while Tim and I fixed the water leak. When we were finished we met at Pizza Hut for dinner.  Scott's dad was at work but his mom was there so it was Scott, his mom, his uncle (who had the water leak), Susan and I.  Emily tried to get him to color but he was more interested in crayons as a food group.

While we were in Kalsipell we went to a couple of stores and bought Scott some rubber boots for outside.  (Kid's boots cost more than the same type boot for adults!  Yikes!)  We stopped at the Salvation Army Thrift Store and bought a reel mower for $24.75 and found a three wheel stroller for Scott.  It was about $55.00 but we had a $5.00 off coupon and "Seniors" get 20 percent off on Tuesdays which brought the price to under $40.00.  We snatched it up!

While in Kalispell we stopped at another daughter's house to see her and the grand kids.  The kids were busy playing a game of Mouse Trap.   

Scott likes walking outdoors and doesn't often want any "help."  This is one time he thought Grandpa needed some assistance so he held my hand to keep me steady on the uneven ground as we walked out to explore the wood shed.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

1-7 February, 2012 Trail Cameras, More birthdays, Swimming and Hot Tubs.

We've been getting a mix of sunshine and cloudy days.  The temperature has stayed between 10 degrees and 35 degrees for lows and highs.  We've had enough warm weather and light rain to turn the roads back to ice so driving can be challenging at times. 

We like taking walks when the sun's out.  On this one I'm carrying Scott and we went about a mile total.  That includes the hills we have to climb to go out and in so it's still a good workout.  I've been carrying my 44 magnum on our walks.  We've had enough warm days this winter to rouse some of the bears from hibernation.  It's rare but does happen and the 44 doesn't weigh that much more than the 357 magnum. 

The view from our road.  That's Therriault Pass in the top center.  It's about 18 miles away as the crow flies.

A couple of mornings the frost was heavy and looked beautiful when the light hit it.  I just had to take a couple of pictures to re-live the experience again.

Susan moved the VCR tapes upstairs.  We have about 550 at last count.  We still have the shelves of DVDs to move yet.

Susan and Scott making trips up the stairs to move some of our canned foods.  She's cleaning out the pantry and we'll remodel it into a bathroom this spring. We'll eventually move Scott into the old bathroom.

Scott is, of course, supervising.

We set up my trail camera to spy on the local wildlife.  This is one it took while we were making our "getaway."

Odie had to come back and check it out herself a few minutes later.

I have pictures of two deer on it (or maybe two pictures of one deer?) during the week it was up.  This photo was taken about 15 minutes before I checked the camera that day.  I thought this trail had more traffic than that.  Now I know! 

Scott is ready for an adventure.  This is the first time he's tried to walk in these shoes.

I took this on the way home from checking the trail camera.  I finally took it down to save the batteries.  I'll put it back up later in the year.

Tristan's birthday this time.  He's 22 (in case you couldn't tell by the cake).  That's Emily beside him.  She just turned 18.  They are our two youngest ones.

Becky with her youngest one (Logan).  He's a couple of months younger than Scott.  She's due to have her third this spring.

Hannah and Scott.  Hannah is Becky's oldest one.  She and Scott hit it off because they can both walk.

The "after party swim" at a local hotel.  We alternated between the pool and hot-tub.  Scott wasn't real enthralled by either.  The pool was too cold and the hot-tub was too hot.  I agree with him for the most part and spent most of the evening getting too hot then cooling back off in the pool.

Susan made tortillas.  We had them with chicken one night then used those we had left for breakfast burritos the next morning.

The kids gave us a "dance mat" to be used with the Wii.  Emily brought hers so we used them both together.  Scott wanted to be first.

The small generator (4000 watt) hasn't been running for awhile so I fixed it in the afternoon because it uses a lot less gasoline per hour than my 6,000 watt unit.  It had a plastic cover for the starter stuck in the flywheel and we couldn't use the starter or pull cord to start it.  It took about 30 minutes to get it apart and back together.  The day was relatively warm at about 30 degrees when I worked on it.

Scott got the idea of using the laundry basket to hold the stuff he takes out of the shelf unit.  Of course he was sitting in it as he filled it.  He does the same thing when he takes his bath.  He has so many toys in it with him that there's hardly space left for him.