Sunday, November 16, 2014

Last work week before Turkey Day

The fall weather has finally begun to turn to winter. Almost all the leaves are gone, the only ones remaining being those of the beeches, and some apples, whose leaves were seemingly frozen in place by the cold snap that came with the power outage.

We've had another small snowstorm, which underscored all the snow-related items on my pre-winter honey-do list.

Unfortunately for that list, baby-holding and baby-sitting duties were preventing me from getting to a lot of it. Aimee can't look after the baby 24/7, so I need to take over for several hours each day. These duties usually come in stints of an hour or so at a time, except on the days when Aimee must teach, in which cases I have Roo for up to four hours.

In either case, I now understand how impossible it is to do the kind of household and mechanical maintenance I do while holding or otherwise tending a baby. I do love my baby daughter and like being with her, and have even gotten used to the screaming, but I need long periods of uninterrupted time to solve mechanical or household problems properly. It can take several hours just to make a diagnosis, let along fix something. If you have to stop every half-hour to check on baby, your train of thought is naturally broken. This time of year we get only seven to eight hours useful daylight, compounding the problem.

So it was with some frustration that I found myself out in my workshop yesterday at 5am assembling a snowplow. This unit, which is now attached to the Land Rover, is supposed to save me from the long hours I spend with my butt frozen to the hard metal seat of the tractor. Not only will it shift snow faster, I'll be able to work in the warm. Once it had arrived by freight truck Thursday, I was determined to have it ready as soon as possible, certainly for the next big storm.

I was able to get the assembly completed by 7.30 am, then I raced off the Belfast to get the hitch receiver I needed to mount it to the front of the Rover, returning by 8.30, by which time Aimee was getting up with Roo. But that was all the time I could reasonable expect to have without interruptions, and indeed Aimee was planning to leave Roo with me all day to go shopping, essentially eliminating all thought of further progress.

Some difficult marital discussion ensued. Aimee is pretty worn down by breast-feeding and by the uncomfortable sleeping position Roo forces on her. She'll sleep most of the night, for which we're grateful, but needs to be attached to Aimee for a good part of the time to do so, making her stiff and sore. Aimee was naturally looking forward to a bit of a break while shopping, leaving me with "the package."

But, with the tractor also in need of a fan belt, we didn't have any reliable way to plow snow, and a small storm is due even by Monday. The greenhouse needed to be sealed up for the winter, and the banking needed fastened around the house to stop the pipes from freezing. A host of other winterization tasks remained undone that I normally would have done by this time of year. I was fairly frustrated by all these undone tasks and could also see that stuff would start to break soon, if most of it wasn't done.

The upshot was, Aimee decided to take Roo with her shopping. I then stayed by myself and was able to concentrate and plan. I completed the mounting of the snowplow by noon, which went easily enough once I got over the fact that I'd have to cut into a brand new $140 hitch receiver with the cut-off saw and weld it directly to the Rover's front bumper.

Then I replaced the fan belt in the tractor. Fan belts are usually easy, but the radiator had to come out for this one, taking around an hour and twenty.

Then the greenhouse, then the banking around the house. Then the yard still needed some things to be picked up. By 2.30 pm when the girls returned, happy enough despite the unplanned outing for Roo,  I'd been on my feet for 9 hours, racing through all this as quickly as I could, with only a cup of coffee and a pecan roll at 4.30 am to succor me.

Poor puss.

But I was able to declare victory over the list.

The only things I haven't done which I wanted to do was to spray underseal on Aimee's new car, and winterize the auto lift. There's also some de-icer cable I wanted to fit to the kitchen roof, but it's way too late for that and has been for some weeks. The car will have to do without underseal for a year. It's a Toyota, and essentially new, so it ought not rust right away. The auto lift needs a coat of Fluid Film to keep freeze-thaw action from causing damage. I expect I can find a moment to slap some on there today, between stints of baby-care duty. And of course we still only have the 3kW generator available to use in a power outage, not my 18kW Lister Petter "sleek green beauty", which is rebuilt but needs a fuel tank and perhaps some new injectors to start. But at least we have one to use.

It can snow two feet tomorrow if it wants, and the power could be out for a week if it likes. We'll still be fine.

For today, Aimee needs to have a rest. I can take Roo on my Sunday rounds, to get gas and local milk and cream for the week, and to a buddy's house to look at a wind turbine for him, to help diagnose some layout problems with the tower. She usually sleeps through that kind of thing.

Hopefully there'll be a Steeler's game to watch too. Maybe Roo will even let us watch it.

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