Things that go bump in the night

Last night we had a really bad storm in the area.  Bad enough that even in a brick house I could hear the wind blowing outside.  Coupled with a torrential rain (we live on high ground so flooding isn’t really an issue) that had lasted most of the day there were parts of town that were inundated with the wet stuff but not too terrible.

This past winter we’d had a fairly significant heavy snowfall that had weakened several trees near the property.  One in particular while belonging to the village also encroaches upon our front yard slightly, meaning one of the larger branches hangs over the property line.  The tree’s base has a rather old but unsightly gash in it, and it’s probably on it’s way towards dying in the next 10 years or so.

Last night around 10:45 I heard what sounded like a significant crash from the front of the house.  One of the cameras in the front of the house showed some accelerated activity in the form of leaves blowing around the steps, but nothing that suggested there was anything major amiss.  Looking out the front door, my wife informed me that there was something in the darkness that didn’t look quite right, that her view toward the street seemed to be blocked.  Turning on the porch lights I could see why.

windstorm1Granted this is the next morning, but going right off from our porch (off to camera right) I could tell that a significant portion of the tree I had been concerned about since this past winter was now residing in the front yard.  I put on my shoes and a jacket, went outside (it had stopped raining at this point but was still pretty windy, probably 20-25 mph gusts) with a flashlight and my phone.  Couldn’t really take any pictures at that point as there wouldn’t be any depth of field.  With my flashlight I could tell the positioning of the tree and the piece that had broken off.  It wasn’t impeding traffic so it seemed pointless to call anyone to take care of it.

About an hour later, the whole thing became moot anyway as the power went off.  Not just for us, but apparently for pretty much our whole town and quite a few towns around us.  The local electrical co-op posted on Facebook that NYSEG had for some reason shut off the electrical connection between them, so they were without power to distribute.  Until that was turned back on, their hands were effectively tied.  Certainly it had something to do with the windstorm, as the NYSEG website’s outage page was lit up like a Christmas tree with outages all over the state.  So it wasn’t just my area, it was all over the place.  One can surmise what probably happened.  One grid goes down, and like dominoes, as each grid is overloaded by others failing, someone needs to pull the plug before they all go down.  So, in my opinion, that’s what someone decided to do.

Regardless, the power was off for a little under five hours.  Came back on around 4:30 and in the morning, I took a few pictures before calling the village street department and informing them about the tree.  About an hour later a crew arrived and disposed of the debris.  I chatted with the foreman about the final disposition of what was left of the tree, and he agreed it will probably have to all come down, it’s pretty rickety the way it is.  Even so, it’s still standing as I’m typing this out.  We’ll see if they bother to remove it.

Wheelbarrow

A wheelbarrow is a lot like a roto-tiller, it has a specific time and place for usefulness, and for the most part sits around unused until it’s needed.  The wife brought into the marriage the one she’s had for 40 plus years, it has a wide barrow (tray) and just one solid wheel like most traditional ones have.  Two steel bars make the handles, they wind down and around the tray underneath and are bolted to the frame that constitutes the ‘feet’ and support the wheel mechanism.  When it was new it was a cheery red, now it’s a mottled rusted color with small patches of the original red peeking out from the patina.

It also is very worn down over the years.  The wheel is somewhat cracked, there are two bolts sheared off on the underside and within the last two weeks the hollow steel bar that makes the right handle has finally rusted through and broken, just under the tailong edge of the barrow.  Part is still supported by the bolts, and the other part sort of swings free.  Getting it welded might be a bit of a chore, but the wife believed that there was a cheaper/easier way to accomplish this, with a product called ‘JB WELD‘.  Granted it’s a substance that I’ve never used before, and a friend of mine informed me that it might work, but it won’t necessarily be as good a fix as someone spot welding the two pieces of metal together, either with a mig or tig weld.  Since I know literally nothing about the ins and outs of welding, I’d have to find a place that did the work, and would be interested in fixing a 40 yr old wheelbarrow.  Not the easiest task in the world, mind you.

From what I’ve been reading, the process is pretty straightforward.  Get the pieces in line, clean up the rusty area and then mix and apply the product around and over where the break is.  Then let it sit for four to six hours to cure.  After that, it should be good to go.  Having viewed a few YouTube videos, I can see that it will probably stand up to light use, but any heavy loads would end up probably breaking it all over again.  So in the meantime, we’re shopping for a new wheelbarrow.  Which has proven not to be the easiest thing either.

When I was growing up, my Dad had a pretty sturdy model, it was green, had oak handles and the tire was pneumatic, in other words, like a bicycle tire, it had an inner tube inside.  Why I decided to part with it I have no clue, but probably because I was moving across the state and didn’t really have use for it anymore.  So it got either sold, or left behind when we moved out of the parents’ house in 1992.  I didn’t see any sign of it when I visited the property in 2017.  So either it rusted out, or someone else is using it now.

With my birthday coming up, the wife has decided this is going to be my birthday present.  But even though I’m likely to be using it mostly, it needs to be a design that she can easily use as well, and we’re not alike in terms of size, ability to lift and so on.  So a traditional one-wheel model isn’t going to be sufficient, it needs to have a sizable (preferably steel) barrow, two wheels for stability and the ability to go over a curb or impediments without tipping over at an inopportune moment.  Having looked over the wares the nearby Lowes had to offer, and searching on Amazon, its not as easy a prospect as I would have thought.  Most of the ones on Amazon are similar to one another, the vast majority have poly or plastic barrows, and the wheels are either solid pieces or they’re not well supported underneath.  There was even one that came directly from China that was going to take two MONTHS to arrive.  Yeah, no thanks on that one.

I increasingly have a difficult time believing that this has to be as hard as its turning out to be.  It’s a wheelbarrow for crying out loud.  Reading the reviews of the ones people have bought, one is good for getting over obstacles, but the tray is made of flimsy plastic and under load bends and buckles.  The next one has a steel tray, but the wheels are worthless and it doesn’t have an adequate support system to allow someone to believe it would last more than one season.  Seriously?  Our friends in North Carolina sent us a picture of the one they have, it looks quite nice and versatile, and using Google image search I was able to find the exact model….except that it’s only available in Canada.  And they won’t ship it across the border, you have to drive to one of their stores in Toronto and purchase it.

Today I took a suggestion my wife had and ran with it.  Her idea was going to the local Tractor Supply store, surely they would have several to choose from or at least look at.  After work I drove over there and….nope.  Not a one.  I asked one of the clerks about the lack of wheelbarrows and he suggested I could order one online, have it shipped to the store and pick it up when it arrived next week.  Thank goodness I don’t have a project I wanted to do today that required use of one.  Sheesh.

I went to the online TSC site and that site insists there’s the right one in store.  Unbelievable.  I was just there!  I guess I need to go back tomorrow and find someone that actually knows what they’re talking about.  Oy.

Final Touches

I’m thinking that we’ve finally finished buying flowers and plants for our respective gardens and plots around the property.  I’m thinking also that I’m about ready to situate the roto-tiller for the year into a corner of the garage, so that it will be ready for use next year.  We did errands on Wednesday, going to our usual ‘go-to’ greenhouse, who are having their ‘end-of-season’ sale before closing for the year.  Unfortunately, they had closed early for some reason, but will be open on Friday.  Not to be outdone, there’s another greenhouse on the other side of town we could check out, and they have ice cream.

While we were out, we also did some grocery shopping.  Normally I prefer to do my shopping by myself, without the wife, because she likes to wander around the store, and gets lost.  (I call it “lost”, she’s just browsing and tends to lag behind)  Me, knowing where just about everything in the store is, can get in and out in record time.  Even so, there are times when I take a little longer at the store, seeing people that I work with and engaging in conversation with them about this or that.  Generally when I shop with the wife, it’s on an off-day from work, so things might have happened in the intervening 18-20 hours that I was unaware of.  Too, there are times during my vacation where I shop at the store, so the conversation tends to be a little longer at that point, much to the wife’s consternation.  So the pendulum swings both ways.

Insofar as being done with the gardening, at least the major getting ready and planting parts are completed.  The beds have been prepped, tilled, graded, weeded (initially) and planted.  We purchased five bags of mulch from Lowes several weeks ago, and finally got them spread in the last couple of days.  Added to the bag and a half that was saved from two years ago, the ones that were stored under the stairs, we’re still probably about a bag or two short of what we really need to keep the weeds at bay.  Having looked up the ratio of thickness of mulch to weed suppression, its been suggested on more than one site that a depth of 3-4 inches is ideal, and we’re nowhere close to that.  A basic layer of about an inch in most places is about the best we could do with 6 1/2 bags.  Too, there are several areas that haven’t been mulched at all, considering it’s where the knotweed is most prevalent.  More than likely that’s going to be left to its own devices for the time being, and possibly for the remainder of the season.

My idea of getting a second wheelbarrow got shot down in the afternoon, the wife has decided that she wants to not only fix her old one, she wishes to repaint it before the summer is over as well.  My suggestion wasn’t with the idea of replacing the one we have, that she inherited from her parents (along with the roto-tiller I just finished fixing) just giving it a little respite, considering its age.  Even so, she almost had a nutty about the whole idea, so I just dropped it.  Perhaps her idea of the JB-Weld she’s getting from Amazon will work.  If not, I have a back-up plan that involves taking it to a metal fab place near here and see if they’re able to weld the handle back together.  It’s worth a shot.

I was intending to have pictures here when this posts, but I will have to add them in later.  I didn’t take any this afternoon when I got finished and it rained before I could get back out to document the ‘finished product’.  That will have to wait for the next day.

Off to bed, some of us work weekends.