Jim

Long Hot Summer

About a week or so ago I took the car in for service to get the air conditioning serviced for spring and as it was cool out still, I didn’t really test it all that well when I picked it up from our mechanic’s.  The next day B comes barging in saying “the air conditioning isn’t working”. Sure it is, I say. It has to be because we paid to have the air conditioning on the car fixed. They’re good guys  - if they say it’s working it  must be.

I thought it worked. She didn’t. It turns out we were both right.  The A/C would work sometimes and then not other times. It would work fine when I drove B to work, but then not on the way home. So, after a week of  this yo-yo of the air-co I went out to do some errands and dropped by the mechanics to have a look again.

Now. We all know how the story goes - On the way to the mechanics the air conditioning worked again.  But, despite the fact that it was a Friday afternoon at  4pm, they tossed it up on the hoist to have a look..

This is where my knowledge with car repair stops - when I  hand over the keys. I know absolutely zero about the finer workings of the average automobile. I know there’s pistons and valves and lots of other stuff, but he could easily sell me down a river as I have no idea what I really need.

After some testing and prodding they pull the car down from the hoist because the air is working now as i has been since I arrived - , but as they go to back the car out of the driveway the air conditioning stops on them. We are  not done yet it seems..

Now they’re intrigued. Now back up the hoist the mitsu  goes and they fiddle and tweak and rev  the engine for what seems to be an eternity to get to  the problem. There’s dye they use to check the airco for leaks, but they  don’t see any real great leaky parts so they are stumped.  ”What if it’s the clutch motor thingy” one of them  asks the other. Maybe… so they get the great ideal to bypass the clutch motor thingy (told ya, no car knowledge here)  with a paper clip. They fiddle with the paper clip for eternity and wonder why the paper clip is not passing the electricity as it should.

It turns out the paper clip was a coated paper clip so the electricity was not passing through as intended so a new uncoated paper clip was found still no go. Whatever they tried to fix with office supplies turns out to be unrepairable in it’s current state.

After that test failed the car came down off the hoist with the diagnosis of a new clutch for the air conditioning system. I am to believe this clutch is different from the clutch to the transmission but I’m not so sure.

Regardless, the diagnosis is at very least we need a new clutch for the air  conditioning system at $400 and the new compressor could be upwards of $1000 because you can’t buy just the clutch for our car model and make  - you have to buy the whole compressor too

All this to say it’s going to be a long hot summer, because the purchasing department tells me that there’s no way we’re going to spend $1000 on an air conditioning repair on a car that at ten years old is probably not worth much more than the new part  it needs.

So….for this summer anyway we’re enjoying the 4/60 air conditioning system: 4 windows down at 60 miles an hour.

How To Save on Your Grocery Bill and The Summer 2012 Vegetable Garden Project

Not to be confused with the front garden project, we have now started a vegetable garden in the back yard too.

I wrote about how we got rid of the dog kennel and, after some hard work we now  have a vegetable garden in the exact same spot:

 

How To Make a Vegetable Garden

Sell Dog Kennel

Cut Down All Weeds

Remove 12 2×2 concrete tiles

Buy pressure treated wood for edging

Add 12 Bags of Miracle Grow Dirt.

Add Vegetable Seeds.

Hope it all works out

The total cost for the dirt, seeds and wood was $104.00  which, if all of this actually grows we should break even when it comes to the prices we would pay for grocery store vegetables.  The goal will now be to keep the dog out of the dirt (ooh dirt!), and the bunnies at bay. Our neighbour tells us the bunnies live under our storage barn and we’re real close to undeveloped areas so I’m sure we’ll have a vistor or two.

Lessons Learned

Those concrete patio stones are heavy and starting late am wasn’t such a good idea. I should have been outside sooner in the day to avoid the big honkin’  sunburn I now have. It’s fun! B is just thrilled to tears with our new garden and we were both crawling around in the dirt to get the  seeds planted.  Our rows of veggie seeds are far, far away from being straight  and that’s OK because the very worst  that can happen is we re-sod the thing if this doesn’t all pan out like we hope.  That said, it would be nice to see just one of each vegetable pop up this summer. I think there’s something to be said for “I made this” as opposed to “I bought this”.

We dragged the dog igloo that used to inside the kennel to the end of the driveway, taped a FREE sign to it and it was gone in less than an hour and we don’t live on a street that get’s any traffic either.  It’s pretty big too - you’d need a truck or minivan to get that home, but somebody took it and it’s one less problem to solve.

We had probably one of the best weekends this year so far. We ate well, worked hard and had time for just sitting on the front porch and relaxing as well. The weather was just wonderful and it’s so nice now that summer is finally here

What If We Gave It Away?

dog kennel free

Boy, when B gets an idea in her head it’s sometimes hard to get her to think of anything else, and this weekend was all about getting rid of the dog kennel - she just wanted  it GONE, so I snapped a photo and put an ad up on craigslist and the thing was gone six hours later (well, kind of… keep reading)

Because  we were offering this for free the filter or cash was removed so my phone rang pretty constantly. A few people called and  wanted to pick it up later in the week - some even offering me bribes to hold the thing, but I wanted to get this task behind  me so I could go back to sitting in my comfy chair so no holds.  I also learned that even when the thing is FREE you can’t even give it away. One woman called, said she was leaving in the afternoon from over an hour away, and I told her I would not hold the thing for her, but afterwards thought I would be a swell guy and hold it for her and of course, she did not show.

After dinner, another woman called about it and I said yes, the dog kennel is still here and still free, and  she said she’d be here in 20 minutes or so. In the meantime, the phone kept ringing and I could  have given away a dozen or more dog kennels if we had them.  We had thought we had yet another no-show on her hands but nope, about 8pm a van pulls up and out pops 2 adults and 3 kids and they started to dismantle the dog kennel only to find there’s no way that fence is going into that passenger van.

So calls were made and as I write this the fence is leaning against the side of the house awaiting pickup from friend with truck. We’d like to see it gone today and I have no reason to think it won’t be. And if not, I have  a long list of others willing to pick up the kennel

One Task Done, Another Begins 

Welcome to married life. Now that we’ve got the dog kennel out of here, my next task is weed and remove the concrete tiles (heavy!) where the kennel stood and then the question begs: what to do with this space? I suggested sand box, but got laughed at - but we may  try our  hands at a small herb/vegetable garden..Tomatoes, carrots…etc. I’ve never been a big fan of gardening but B would love it and all it takes is a pile of dirt and some seeds. I could get really fancy and create a border around it, but I may be getting ahead of myself…

Craigslist Lessons Learned

“I’ll be there” means nothing.

If you give it away, somebody will need it or use it.

People are nice. Every person I spoke to was nice. I’m usually reluctant to deal with craigslist due to the fact that you never know what you’re going to get, but this was a relatively painless and quick process.

A Clean House

Due to the nice weather we had, we also got lots of other stuff done around  the house. I cut the lawn and painted in the kitchen and fixed a table (I hope) with some wood glue and B buzzed around running the diswasher, four loads of laundry and other puttering around the house.  We hadn’t really planned it but  we managed to get a lot done around the house but still managed to sit outside for a while. The summertime evening light is just priceless.

 

Paper Engagement

A year ago today, we got engaged - on paper at least. I still had to get a ring and a dusty knee, but my beautiful wife was not going to wait, so she asked me and the United States government if it was OK to marry me. Wait, she asked if she could import my sorry butt to marry me.  So a year ago this weekend we sat down at the computer, gathered up the forms and birth certificates and passport photos and the most important part  - a letter of intent to marry each other and off it went to the post office. Our K1 Fiance Visa Journey had begun.

 

“So, are you engaged?”

When I got home again to Canada, that was the question friends and family wanted to know and my answer was umm..I don’t know. You see there was one problem. No Ring. That would come later, but in the meantime my male ego wanted a ring on her finger asap.  It  just didn’t feel right being ‘engaged’ on paper but she’s still walking around ring-less.

So, I saved and saved and saved (I already had a good head start - I knew this was coming) and sold lots of cool toys to buy her a ring

 

(to be continued…)

Summer Flower Project 2012

The Goal:

Have a nice looking front Garden this summer.

The Challenge:

Neither of us have a clue of what we’re doing, so what we did what any adult would do in  this situation:** We asked the neighbour kid.  **

I shouldn’t say kid I suppose - he’s 20-ish and the gardener in the family across the street. Last year we were out front on a sunny day and B was wondering what to do with her front garden and he came over with some seeds. We sprinkled them on top of the dirt (being the excellent gardeners that we are) and  wouldn’t you know it the flowers that resulted bloomed so tall you couldn’t  even see the basement windows as below:

 

We are hoping for the same in 2012, and I thought it would be fun to document the results this year. I’m having a bit of fun with this site, and now that I live in the USA -  all my gear is here too so I thought it would be fun. If nothing else,it  gets me outside.

 

These flowers didn’t get the memo that they were not supposed to come back  - but as you can see, they did.

And as luck would have it, the seeds we planted last year have continued to grow this year even though they’re supposed to be annuals and not perennials. I hope I got that right - what I’m trying to say is that this wasn’t supposed to happen.

Still, we **need more flowers **so back across the street we go to ask “what were those flowers we had last year”? (told ya, we’re expert gardeners) and we found out they were Zinnia flowers, and  that we needed to just buy more seeds and they’re cheap at about $8 for a lb of flowers seeds.

But, because this is the USA and you can buy anything and everything you can think of online we found 500 Zinnia seeds for 2 bucks on eBay and planted them (ie: toss them on the dirt and hoped)  today. Time will tell whether we’re successful but I find  it funny that B needs more seeds. Somehow, 500 isn’t enough.

It’s funny learning what makes your spouse happy, and guys - buy her seeds. They’re cheap and she was thrilled to bits about the possibility of flowers. Personally, If our cash flow were better, I’d be just  as happy outsourcing the  whole event  to Bob’s landscaping or some flower guy and be done or even just put some rocks ou there or whatever - but nope - we plant 2 bucks of seeds and she’s dancing around like there’s diamonds in the soles of her shoes.

These sprouts were not supposed to happen. We thought for sure we would have to re-plant but these little  guys are starting to show promise:

I also found  some other flowers in the lawn that we had not intended to plant but somehow they pop up every year too. I am informed that these are not flowers, but  some kind  of  weed and that these are not pretty. I’m not saying that I want my entire yard filled with these (oops, too late)  but I still think they look nice:

In summary, this means I now have a new summer hobby that’s called ‘water the flowers’ and I’m OK with that because it’s nice out in the summer and you never know - the ice cream truck might drive by :).