A lot has been going on since I last wrote something here.

You may have noticed from Malin’s posts that we’ve gone green. Last weekend we spent most of the day Saturday working on readying the ground for a garden. Malin has been spraying grass killer for a few weeks on a couple of big, square patches of land in the back yard. This past weekend saw the legwork of preparing the ground. We rented a big ol’ tiller, tilled up the dirt, raked out the dead grass and weeds, and hoed the dirt into lanes.

Malin’s mom and her boyfriend (her mom’s boyfriend, not Malin’s) came over to help out. Since we sold the Blazer (months ago) we no longer have a way to get a tiller home from the rental store. Heck, I doubt this thing would have fit in the Blazer anyway. Randy has a trailer for his work which pulled it to our home more than adequately.

The tiller was very large and had lots o’ power. So much power that it really seemed poorly designed overall. It didn’t have the kind of features needed to easily handle the power. For one, there was a single gear shifter and single clutch (hand operated pedal) that controlled both the drive wheels and the tines. This meant that there was no way, for instance, to engage the tines without the wheels. It was possible to do the other way around, however, because the transmission offered special gear selections that did not engage the tines. Add to that the fact that there was a center open differential between the two axles. Yes, this means that when the tines were not moving at all that the wheels were moving doubletime. So, when you hit a lump of hard dirt, the tines want to stop because they can’t chew through it and zooom!!! the things takes off like a go cart as the drive wheels start spinning double speed. And it zooming around like a go cart is bad. You need it go slowly so that the tines thoroughly till the hard, virgin earth underneath. So Randy gave me a hand with it. We must have looked ridiculous: two full grown men man-handling this piece of lawn equipment. And even with both of us hanging on to it and keeping it on mission, it still tried to get away from us a couple of times.

If only it had had a second pedal for engaging the tines and wheels. Then you could engage the tines and make them dig and only engage the wheels often enough to keep the thing moving forward without letting it zoom off. A hand brake lever may have been suitable, too. I wonder if there is any money in inventing better yard machines… It doesn’t seem like it would take much to greatly improve the usability of these things – all the way to the point where even an older or weaker person could handle it without assistance.

So we got the yard all dug up. We’ve also added some fittings and splitters to the outside faucet so we have hoses that lead to the garden as well as a natural area in the front yard all on one timer, a dedicated hose to the back deck for use with an immersion wort chiller (for making beer), and two extra spaces for any additional watering needs…

The three weeks prior to our garden-creating excursion was filled with lots of automotive maintenance – everyone’s least favorite subject.

  • Week 1: Malin’s car needed new brake pads and new rear rotors.
  • Week 2: My car needed new brake pads and had to have the front calipers rebuilt. Malin’s car needed four new tires.
  • Week 3: My car needed a new clutch.

And the saga continues… This week, I had to take my car back in because the mechanic put my car on the lift improperly when replacing the clutch. The result was a bent piece of metal connected to the chassis to which the plastic fenders bolt. This caused the passenger side fender to have an unsightly gap as it stuck further from the other body panels than it should have. Also, the clutch pedal felt funny – the pedal’s travel would stop/slow right as the clutch was fully engaged and then pop out the rest of the way. So this week they had to fix the fender, and they were able to fix the pedal by bleeding air bubbles out of the hydraulic lines (which should have been done when they put the clutch in last week).

And next week, Malin’s car has to go in to get a radiator leak fixed and have a CV boot replaced. I’m not looking forward to that since I know it could be expensive depending on where the radiator leak comes from and whether or not the CV joint has already gone dirty or dry from the torn boot. And to top it all off, the A/C in my car isn’t working worth a crap. Luckily, it’s nearly Autumn. I’ll put up with the miserable heat for a bit longer, and then I can wait until next Spring or Summer to fix that (which could also be expensive if, for instance, the compressor has to be replaced).

It wouldn’t be so bad if gas prices weren’t so high. So the cars are basically taking moolah from us in two ways lately: more expensive fuel and more-than-usual repairs this year.

Speaking of cars, I was looking earlier in the week to replace the desktop image on my PC at work. Currently there is a pic of a Nissan GTR thereupon. I ran across this picture of a Maserati Gran Turismo – it is a smokin’ hot car:

A Bitchin' Ride

I put it on my desktop at home for the time being – until I get around to putting it up at work and then finding another picture of Will for the home desktop (Malin disapproves of not seeing Will’s smiling mug on my screen).

Speaking of Will, he is now back at school. July 28th was his first day back. It is nice to have the place to myself in the morning when I work from home, but I wish his school were closer (driving out there and back twice a day isn’t the best way to conserve fuel…). He enjoys it, and Malin needs the morning time lately because she has been busy as all heck… (two photo shoots this past weekend, one earlier in the week, and two today).

The other day she saw The Dark Crystal on sale at the store and picked it up for Will. I almost forgot how crazy and creepy that movie is. It is slow – slower than I remember from seeing it as a kid. Also, the puppetry isn’t nearly as awesome as I remember (like the fact that when the Gelflings talk, their lips barely move at all…). But some of the other visuals are fun and cool – like the Skeksis and especially the Garthim, which are wicked cool antagonists… Will only watched about half of it before he got tired of it and decided to turn it off. He still hasn’t returned to it to finish watching the rest of the movie…

Speaking of Will finishing something, we will be finishing Harry Potter and The Sorceror’s Stone this week. At the rate we’re going, tomorrow night’s the night. Tonight we read the next-to-the-last chapter. Often when I read it to him at night, he seems like he isn’t paying attention, but sometimes he surprises me by jumping up and saying something about what I just read. Only a few times has he fallen asleep while I read.

And now to wrap up our tale: it all ends with disease, as does so much else in the world. Will brought home some nasty germs from school that have had all of his feeling like trash for the past couple of days. I went into work yesterday, thinking I’d get over it once I got my mind off it. But that didn’t happen like I planned. I actually felt worse and worse as the day went on and ultimately had to leave early. I think the end is finally near. I feel much better now than this time last night, so I’m hoping that one more good night’s rest will heal the whole crew here.

That about sums up our past few weeks. Hopefully everyone else’s went at least as well (for instance, just as well but minus the car troubles and sickness).