Pete's random thoughts

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Biker Caleigh

Today we went to Claremont to do some errands and go to a birthday party for one of Caleigh's little homeschool friends. It was a 7th birthday party, being held at a local park that has lots of picnic areas and trails.

This morning we got a call from the girl's Mom who told us that the kids were all bringing bikes and going to ride on the trail, so I had to drop what I was doing and fix Caleigh's offroad tricycle. It had been run over by the musket delivery truck last week, squishing one of the rear wheels beyond recognition and slightly bending the axle. I don't know how he managed to run over it as it was parked pretty much behind my Suzuki. I swiped one of the wheels from the trailer that goes with the trike and put her trike back in service, then figured out how to get it into the back seat of the Buick.

Myself, I rode the Suzuki to the party. But I brought a surprise with me in the saddlebag! A while back, Caleigh and I had perused the Dennis Kirk catalog and found her a kids sized helmet in a color she approved of. I wear a half-helmet, but she is only 5 and I decided she would have a good quality full-faced helmet to protect her little noggin. She picked it out, it is "ice blue" and has a clear face shield. Helmets have come a long way since the 1970's!

As the party was winding down, I told he that I had her helmet with me and asked if she wanted to go for a ride on the motorcycle. Silly question! She put it on, and rode her tricycle over to where the Moms were sitting to tell Wendy that we were going.

Where do you put a 5 year old on a motorcycle? Good question! Ron, our UPS guy had told me ho he used to carry his kids when they were little and his method made sense, so I tried it. She sat in front of me, on the junction of where the tank and seat come together. That way, if she started to panic or slip, I could use my left hand to grab her. The problem was that her feet came down so that the natural thing was to put them on the valve covers (too hot to touch). What we came up with was to put the bottoms of her feet flat on the lower part of the fairing, which kept them up and out of the way and also gave her something to brace against in turns.

On the road in the park there was a series of speed bumps at way-too-regular intervals. These were a pain because the bike frame bottomed out on them and the little helmet clad head in front of me would bounce up and whack me in the chin.

After the party, we stopped for dinner and then went food shopping. I followed the Buick, and when we got to the food store, Wendy went inside and I took Caleigh for another ride, this time in the parking lot of the supermarket (actually kind of a plaza, there is a cinema, Kmart, etc etc.). The lot was much more bike-friendly, as there were less speed bumps to deal with and lots of room to ride in circles and figure eights with her.

Now she's hooked. She likes my helmet because it is covered in stickers. I have a sticker for her to put on her helmet, it is her first sticker! I think it is appropriate and descriptive. It simply says: Wild Child!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Buster does it again...

Ok, last night Buster starts barking up a storm at around 1:30AM. He usually doesn't bark in the house, so whatever upset him was near-by and really important to him.

Standard procedure when he barks is for me to grab a gun and a light of some sort and go see what he is into tonight. Since he was inside, trying desperately to get out of the shop door to get at something, I opened up the door and followed him out thinking that I'd encounter what he was after as soon as he did. Nope. He took off like a shot to the woods across the driveway and was gone. I sprinted across to join him, but saw nothing in the thick underbrush. He barked at something and got it moving off to my left, I heard the brush breaking in a place where Buster wasn't. Next thing you know he's on the move, heading up onto the mountain. I wasn't about to go up there after him, so I hung around on the logging road for a while to see if he would be back soon. Eventually, he came back, panting and thirsty. He checked in with me and went back out on patrol.

Today, coming up the road, I noticed the cane (I think it is called American Bamboo) that grows in the ditch across the street all smashed over into the road, like something had crashed through it. I'm thinking that what we ran off last night was probably a bear, since it made such a mess of the cane. I don't know, but whatever it was, Buster was pretty serious about it.

Tonight, he came in from a patrol and disappeared onto the couch, seemingly trying to keep a low profile. I thought nothing of it as I was really into a plumbing project. Wendy happened to walk by him, and noticed something odd about his was decorated with 10 porcupine quills! What a dufus. I can see him now, walking up to a porky and giving it a big sniff.

So far we have yanked 8 of them out, but that was pretty much his limit of what he would tolerate. We'll let him rest for a while and hopefully forget what we are up to when I put him in a headlock and Wendy approaches with a pair of pliers. As I type this, he's curled up under my desk, so he isn't taking it personally.

I shudder to think about what he will get into next: in the past two weeks, he's gotten into a scrap with a fisher, got sprayed by a skunk, and now has gotten a nose full of quills. Never a dull moment...

Here he is, looking embarrassed by his new nose decorations:

Friday, August 03, 2007

Catching up - a bunch of random stuff

OK, so I haven't been diligent about posting lately. I didn't manage to find the time to post anything in July at all!

That doesn't mean nothing has been going on here.

In July, we have:

~Got two new goats, a female named Vanilla and a wethered male named Chocolate. They have assimilated into the existing goat family, and we now have a flock of 5 roaming around here, clearing brush and causing trouble.

~Received and started going over the revisions of several new gun models. The first one going into production is the double barrel flintlock pistol. The prototype came out nice, and we only had to make one change to it (add a thimble). The first production run of them is being built as I write this! The others that arrived are the prototype Ketland Officer's Fusil and the Early Fusil DeChasse. Both need minor tweaks, and I'll get to them ASAP. The English gun came in at 6.5 pounds, and the French one at 6.7 pounds. Nice!

~We've been working on the house. The new bedroom is framed, the beadboard walls are up, the door is in, and the next step is to wire it and get the trip up, then the varnishing can be done.

~We've come up with a new scheme for storage of inventory, as we have dramatically outgrown the old "gun room". Some stuff needs to be moved around, a wall needs to be built, but it should be a quick project and in the end, it will be much more organized. To be honest, a lot of things will be much more orderly once the house is finished as there is a lot of "house stuff" underfoot here in the shop. Why did George Elberfeld, the guy who built this place, decide not to have any closets? Who knows! We'll have closets soon though!

~We got a whole truckload of birds from George in Walpole, the town to the South of us. He is converting his chicken-pasture and his waterfowl-pasture to one big pasture to house a mini-horse, and had to get rid of 40 chickens, 7 geese, 8 adult ducks and about 2 dozen ducklings. When I found out about them, it was one of those deals where Wendy tells me to drop what I am doing and go get them. We kept them penned up in Buster-dog's chain-link kennel for a few days to trick them into thinking that this is "home" and let them out to free-range today. Lots of drama. If coming to visit, watch out pulling into the driveway as they seem to have no fear of cars!

~Buster has kept me busy as well. A week ago he tangled with a fisher in the woods and had a big chunk of his tail bitten off. We discovered it by following the blood trial across the house to the corner of the unfinished pantry where he was hunkered down to hide. A week of painkillers, two weeks of antibiotics. It is healing well, considering that it was a big enough hole that there wasn't enough skin to sew it up, and we had to leave it open to grow new skin. I don't think he'll try to sniff a fisher again. Buster being Buster, on Wednesday night of this week, he went out to roam and around 1AM he started to bark angrily. I grabbed my super-duper flashlight and my .45 and ran out to see what was up. He was really mad at something! Out the game trail I went, down towards the road. There he was...sniffing at something with his hackles was was black with a white stripe...I yelled "BUSTER-NO NO!" was too late, the skunk sprayed him a direct hit right in the face, then disappeared over the embankment across the road. He slept outside that night, and the next morning I had to push more work aside to give him a bath. What will he get into next?

~Ti was fun, as always. Great weather, but rainy when we tried to go to Pow-wow. It's a trade-off, you want to have a busy store, but if it is a busy store, you don't get to go shopping yourself. I got to sneak away for about 5 minutes to go talk to Roger Longtoe, then was called back to the store. On the plus side, lots of folks came to visit in the store.

~We didn't go to Ti last year as we had something going on here, so it was our first time meeting Karl Crego, the new sutler coordinator at Ti. Nice guy. It pissed me off to see people giving him a hard time. He is a volunteer, and volunteers should be respected. At the sutler meeting, there were people squawking at him about the location of their spots next year...even though he had just stated that the location of the British camp and sutler row has not yet been determined for next year!

~Jeff and I have worked out a location and basic design for our new barn. Because of the terrain, it will have a walk-out foundation, which is actually handy because we can design it around a manure gutter to make it easier to clean. It will be a post and beam structure. Now I need to draw it up and plan out a bill of materials. Beams are fifty cents a board-foot at the local sawmill.

~We got in a Bess with a big knot in a bad place, so we have decided to make it a test case for restocking one in walnut. I want to see what the total cost is in man-hours and materials to stock an Indian gun in walnut. Then we'd have the best of both worlds: the correct wood for the stock, and a hand forged lock!

~Today I went to buy a truck to take the place of my rapidly decomposing old Chevy. Kind of sad, but I'm replacing it with another old GMC, only a nice one. My $800 '88 Chevy 1/2 ton served me well for nearly 5 years. I never got an inspection sticker for it in all of that time, but promised Wendy that I'd get one this year. To do the needed bodywork and other assorted little crap to it would add up fast, especially now that it's burning oil pretty bad. I decided to shop for a club cab so we could all ride together comfortably, including the dog. It had to have an 8' bed though. Just for kicks, I looked at new trucks and the ones I liked were in the $40k-$45k range...yeah, right. On our trip to Brattleboro to pick up the goats, I saw a giant green truck with a for sale sign and stopped to check it out. Paid for it today. It is an '88 GMC 1-ton, with dually wheels, a double cab (I.E. a 4-door) that seats 6. It has a 9' rack body on the back instead of a regular bed. The motor is two years old, the transmission is a recent rebuilt heavy-duty unit, it has new brakes, new tires, recent tune-up and wires and I paid well under book value for it. I'll have to replace the cracked windshield though. I'll have to post pics of it when I pick it up next week. It was owned by a roofing company who is replacing it with a similar truck (same year) with a dump body. I managed to find a 19 year old truck in Vermont with no rust!

~We are going to Fort at No. 4's F&I weekend tomorrow, but not bringing the store. We are just going to day-trip it with the militia group we belong to. #4 isn't really reenactor-friendly anymore, but we are going because this is our anniversary week and it is where we were married in 1999. It is also where my Mom's funeral was held in 2000. It is sad to see the place be such a fiasco these days, but this too shall pass. Management comes, and management goes, but the living history community flows around it and keeps on doing it's thing. We are going to hang out with friends, eat at the Hinsdale's potluck (I'm bringing potted beef and a watermelon), shop, and go to the Native gathering. If we aren't treated too badly, we'll go back on Sunday.

OK, that's enough catching up for one night, I've got work to catch up on too!