Test Daughter’s Tig

Supposedly “test daughter” was the one to pick out the puppy, but I’m not sure. 17 years ago this past November, she, her husband, her dad and I went over to a house to look at a puppy. I remember the tiny puppy bouncing over and laying down on test daughter’s feet, so I’m not sure if she picked out test daughter, or if test daughter picked out the puppy. I guess it doesn’t matter as that puppy came home with them and they named her “Tig”.

When I would stop by, Tig would greet me with about a minute of bouncing up and down while running in tight circles and excited yip noises. I would make a slight jump and Tig would then start running around in the back yard before coming back in to lick my hand while I gave her a lot of ear rubs.

As time went on, Tig’s reaction was the same, but not as long lasting. Still, it was easy to tell she was thrilled to see me.

Starting about 4 months ago, Tig would come up and wag her tail, sniff me and then lick my hand while I gave her ear rubs.

Very recently, she seems to be deaf, she walks into walls, she’s lost control of her bladder, she no longer likes to be petted, she’s eating and drinking very little, and most of the time when she’s standing, she looks into the distance at “nothing”.

It’s time.

Today, the vet called to confirm tomorrow’s appointment and warned that due to Covid, only one person could accompany Tig. So I stopped by today to see her one last time.

Tig didn’t notice me right away, but she finally noticed “someone” and struggled up to see who it might be. She sniffed me and then started licking my hand. Test daughter’s 14 year old son tearfully told me I was the only one to ever get hand licks from Tig, so I’m sure she recognized me.

Tig will head to the rainbow bridge with only one “pack member” (test daughter) there to say farewell. The rest of us will have to wait outside.

Oranges 2021

It’s orange (tree) season and I’ve picked 7 boxes worth of oranges. Each box weighs around 70 pounds/30Kg and I’m guessing there are two more boxes of oranges that I can reach with the ladders and fruit pickers.

Juicing is going a bit more slowly as I don’t want to put too much warm juice into the freezer at one time and risk thawing the other food in the freezer.

I should be done with this project by Sunday afternoon and then I can get back to the landscaping while it’s still nice outside. Unlike other parts of the country, it’s been in the 75F/23C range here so now is the time to take care of landscaping so that the plants have a chance to establish themselves before the outside temperatures climb to “broil”.

…went for a walk…

So, today my wife and I went for a walk in the desert. It was in the low 70F/20C temperature range today and it was quite nice. Don’t worry, you’ll get a chance to laugh when it’s 5am and it’s already (still?) 105F/40C.

Anyway, we got to see a couple of interesting things.

We were walking a short distance along a desert wash and saw this. To not “annoy” the cactus and spiny plants guarding the site, we decided to take this picture from a respectful distance. Neither of us could find any reason to risk our ankles. 🙂

Farther along the trail, someone ahead of us had dropped a chip on the ground. At first I was going to pick it up, litter and such, but a couple of ants had already found it and I decided to watch (I’m a 5 year old boy in 60 year old body). Within about 5 minutes, reinforcements had arrived and the 2 ants had become 15 ants. Soon it was 40-50 ants, all helping to move the chip along toward “home”. During the 10 minutes I was watching, they moved the chip about 20 feet (6 meters). After getting this picture, I looked around and found their “home” was about 50 feet/15 meters distant, so I’m sure the “junk food” arrived safely.

I wish I could have watched them work at getting their prize down into the nest, but my wife wasn’t *that* interested and, since she also had a set of keys to our truck, I decided I’d better continue hiking with her. 🙂

Old Tech

I received an email with some attached documents that needed to be filled out and FAXed back to the government agency. Yes, I did type FAX.

I can see why it needs to be FAXed. The form has my name, address, social security number, bank account information, passport information and several other things that, these days, are considered quite sensitive. An email will sit on an email server until the message is retrieved and during that time, someone could “break-in” into the server and grab the data. Conversely, a FAX image comes out on a piece of paper and pretty much the only way to get the information (besides ‘tapping’ the phone lines) is to go to where the paper is sitting.

I called around today to several places that I would have expected to have a FAX machine that, for a fee, could be used.

Place 1, “No, we got rid of that a few years ago.”

Place 2, “No. Sorry.”

Place 3, “I don’t think so. Let me ask someone…….They said we don’t have one. Sorry.”

Place 4, “It quit working and never got a new one.”

Place 5, “FAX? What’s that?”

Place 6, a 45 minute (each way) drive, “Yes. We have one. It hasn’t been used in quite awhile.”

So, I looked around to buy a FAX machine. The least expensive one was $80 dollars. I didn’t want to spend $80 to FAX 2 pages.

So, I recalled my “knowledge of the old ways” and managed to put together a the needed stuff to make a FAX. Amazingly enough, the capability still exists in even the newest versions of MS Windows. The problem I had was that my modem has a RS-232 connection and the computer has none of “those old things”….instead having only USB ports.

I was able to find dialup FAX/modems that hook up via USB, but the soonest I could get one was February 16, which is 6 days too late for the February 10 deadline.

I did have a USB to RS-232 adapter in my “box of junk” and after about 2 hours of searching, I found the needed drivers to allow MS Windows to correctly interact with it.

So, now I can send FAXs and, if my internet provider still bothers to maintain the hardware, I could connect to the internet at 56Kbit/sec. 30 years ago that was “wow” speeds. Now, speeds 1000 times faster than the dialup are “adequate”.

The 1980s

Pat Willard’s blog, at https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/109621129/posts/3158858832, talked about what I thought was a funny cooking adventure and it reminded me of some “make me smile” cooking memories from 40 years ago.

In the early 1980s, while attending university, I lived in a small house by myself and my girlfriend would come over to study. She shared her apartment with three other girls and sometimes they did not want to study, so my place was a nice and quiet “study hall”. (I guess at age 60, I can call 18 year old women “girls”…..)

One night while we were studying, pre-med for her and engineering for me, I offered to cook some dinner for the two of us. My cooking was limited to hamburgers, french fries in the oven, “nuked” baked potatoes in the microwave oven, eggs and bacon. Chicken was a *huge* “leap of faith”.

These college kid meals worked until she noticed the Betty Crocker Cookbook that my mom and grandmother had left for me. When they had given it to me, I did the “guy thing”; look at it, thank them and put it on the shelf “for later”. She saw the cookbook and started looking through it, much like my wife just did with the Ball Blue Book. After a few minutes, she commented that a particular recipe didn’t seem that difficult and the next thing I know, we were walking to the grocery store to buy the stuff we needed for the meal.

The food we cooked actually tasted good and neither of us got sick, so it obviously turned out OK.

When we would find terms in the cookbook that we couldn’t figure out, we would ask my neighbors. They had sold their “mom and pop” restaurant and retired, so they had no problem answering even the most complicated questions, like “What is Sautee?”

After finding a recipe that we liked, we would practice making it until we felt confident that we could duplicate it without messing it up. Then we would invite the retired neighbors or some friends to my house for a nice meal. It was a lot of fun being the host and hostess.

Later, as our skills improved, we watched the cooking shows on the local public broadcasting television station and made notes on the recipes that were presented on the shows. Sometimes the recipes worked and sometimes it was obvious we had missed “something”. If the food was edible, but was just missing “something”, we’d make notes about what to try next time and then try it again. Most of the time we could figure it out and make a presentable meal, even if it wasn’t exactly what was presented on the television show.

Sometimes, however, the outcome was so bad that there was no hope. I can still remember my girlfriend’s scrunched up facial expression and her tone of voice when she would say, “Ahh…..if we have friends over for dinner…..let’s not make this…” That ALWAYS made me smile.

For some reason I could imagine her using the same facial expression and tone of voice when calling the professor to come over to look at an unexpected discovery in a human cadaver. My apologies for creating that image, but that’s what I envisioned when she would make “the announcement”. I guess that is what made it so funny for me.

Pat’s blog entry, with the sheep’s head, complete with teeth, while it probably would make a good meal, would have likely elicited the same scrunched up face and tone of voice that always made me smile.

Today, my Wife…..

In the past, I was always the one to do the “fancy cooking”. We would share the “normal” day to day cooking, but, for some reason, the “fancy cooking” was my domain. By fancy I mean breads, cakes, jams, jellies, marmalades, long prep time stews, canning foods, and similar things.

Recently, she has been trying some of the fancy cooking stuff and last week, while we were at the hardware store, she saw (and bought) a copy of The Ball Blue Book….. If you’re not familiar with this book, I think the following link about the Ball Blue Book is very good. https://www.healthycanning.com/ball-blue-book. Hopefully they don’t mind my linking to their page.

Interjecting something somewhat unrelated. About 32 years ago, I decided a woman that is an engineer, comments how she loves the smell of old hardware stores, likes to go to auto parts stores, can spend days in a used books store, just about steals my 1950 Jeep so she can drive it, likes to backpack…and tolerates me…is amazing, precious and special.  So, I married her. 🙂  We thought it was a great idea at the time and 32 years hasn’t changed our thoughts on it!

Anyway, this morning she went to the grocery store, bought a large bag of frozen blueberries and then asked me to get half a dozen half-pint canning jars, lids and jar bands from the top shelf in the pantry.

She proceeded to make blueberry jam. The only thing I helped her with was showing her where the tools (jar lifter, funnel, and such) were located and moving the large pot of water onto the stove.

When she took the jars out of the water bath, all the lids made that nice “click” sound as the vacuum formed and it looks like the jam is setting up nicely.

Another Bug

This is a telegraph key I used when I needed to send Morse code more slowly than the one I talked about in The bug.

This key, apparently made by several Japanese companies in the early 1960s, works well for sending Morse code at speeds between 10 and about 25 words per minute. The key shown in the other post works best at speeds between about 20 and 45 words per minute.

The skill of the operator, and radio conditions “at the other end”, determined which telegraph key I would use. Since I didn’t know what speed I might need to send, both keys were wired in to the same circuit and set side by side. That way, I could just move my hand to use whichever one I needed to use.

Like the other one, this key had also been boxed up and sitting on a shelf. When I saw the box, I took the key out and gave it a try. It wasn’t working. After unsuccessfully trying to adjust it, I took it apart and found flat spots on the little steel balls making up the bearings that allowed the lever to pivot sideways.

The picture below is my first finger next to one of the 1/16 inch diameter bearings. I can’t say they are tiny, but they certainly are not huge.

This key needed 10 of these bearings and fortunately the local hardware store had 15 of them in the back stock room. The store owner laughed when he looked at the box holding them and noted that the box had been put into the stock room in 1992. I bought all 15 just in case I lost a few while installing them.

It took about 10 minutes, some patience and some “mumbling” to get the 10 steel balls in place. I am also very glad I thought to put the key and bearings in a shoe box before doing the work. If the balls fell onto the floor and rolled across the room…… Then came the adjustment phase. That took another 15-20 minutes and it’s once again, able to make the music.

There are no longer any paying jobs (that I know about) that require the use of Morse code. Fortunately that was not the case in the early 1980s when I was working to pay my university tuition fees.

Today Was a Good Sour Day

I started the sauerkraut on 31 December, 2020 and, after a week, I was taste testing it every four or five days. Today, it was finally “sour enough for me” and I put it iinto the jars so it would more easily fit into the refrigerator.

This coincided with my irregularly scheduled (meaning, I bake it when I need it) sourdough bread baking day, so I obviously had a sour day today.

Sometimes sour is good.

Doctor Exam

I hold a commercial driver license and, as required by USA federal government regulations, a medical provider must certify that I have no medical conditions that could render me unable to control a vehicle.

My driver medical certification is expiring next week, so I just underwent another medical exam.

The doctor said I’m fit to drive.

Right now, a mundane life, mostly.

So, for the past couple of weeks, not much has been going on here. Events have illustrated to me that the opposite of mundane is not always good, so I’m not at all upset with this. 🙂

I’m still working on the landscaping. I’m in the southwest USA desert area and plants, even the desert adapted stuff I’ve been planting, will require some extra water to be able to thrive. So, I’ve been reworking the automatic watering system. At one point, I had to go through or under a cement block wall with the tubing. I both hate and like the block wall. It sort of reminds me of a prison wall, yet, since it surrounds the back yard, it’s the reason we can let the dogs use a small door to go into and out of the house whenever they want to “change places”. Anyway, to save having to buy a rotary hammer drill, I decided to dig a narrow trench under the block wall’s footings. At four feet, I had not reached the bottom of the footings, so I ended up buying the drill. I hate poor quality tools, so I bought a nice one. Armed with the drill and the drill bit, it took me 10 minutes to drill a 1 inch (2-1/2 cm) hole through the block wall.

Bills. Imagine that. Besides the usual utility bills, January is the time I need to renew (pay money) the “dog licenses” and memberships for two professional organizations that I still find worthwhile.

Investment and retirement account reviews. I tend to treat the long term retirement investment accounts with what I call benign neglect. Once a year, I look things over and decide if I need to do anything to keep things moving forward. This year, even with the pandemic stuff, the investments are looking good, and even with the election results, I don’t currently see any need to change things. That doesn’t mean I won’t take action mid year, but I have to build a quite compelling case to do so…it’s only happened one time in 35 years….

Sauerkraut. The sauerkraut is “sitting there” fermenting in its crock and will be ready in another week. It smells normal and it’s getting the required sour taste.

Sourdough. My sourdough starter is happy. I’m baking bread three, sometimes four, times per two week interval.

Ham radio. I have some old (vintage/antique) ham radio equipment that is not working as well as expected, so I spent some time figuring out the issues and have ordered the parts needed to fix things. About half the $12 cost is for shipping. There used to be six electronics stores here that would have had everything I needed, but they have all disappeared, so it’s all “mail order”.

The Christmas tree, its decorations and the outdoor Christmas lights are all put away.

And for some good things….

Our daughter has turned 23 and is working at her first job that makes use of her education. It’s a starter job, but it pays enough to take care of her bills and still save some money. She asked for some help with savings plans and budgets, and after looking at what she was doing, all she needed was confirmation that she was doing well…she has zero debt and is managing to save around 15% of her income. I guess that makes her an oddity in today’s USA society…no debt and money in the bank. I guess it also illustrates the power of being an example.

In other daughter news, we got to meet her boyfriend. He seems like a nice guy.

After waiting 6 months after diagnosis (Covid delays) , my mother-in-law had the first of three kidney stones “blasted” with what is called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy. Basically it is using sound waves to shatter the kidney stones. She was in severe pain from the kidney stones and the procedure added some additional pain, but she says it’s now subsiding to below “pre-blast” pain levels. There are two more to go. The next one is the 26mm (bigger than once inch) “rock” and the doctor says getting rid of that one will make her feel a lot better.