The Buzz about Hornets

Hornet Next Kingsway Dr 08-15-2014Mother has a fascia board that needs to be replaced on the back of the house. Mark and I decided we have neither the ladder, the expertise or the ambition to tackle something that would turn into a Big Job if we tackled it, so I reached out for a fellow recommended by Ernie Chiles.

He said he’d get it done it before we the attic filled with squirrels. Before he took the job, he wanted to walk around to see he needed to take care of anything else at the same time. When he got to the window outside Mother’s bedroom, he suggested that she keep the window closed because of the big hornet nest about three feet from it.

I watched the nest for a good bit waiting to capture one coming or going, but didn’t see any. It might be an inactive nest, or they might have been waiting for me to give it a poke, at which time they would demonstrate why wise people don’t poke a hornet nest.

I haven’t had much experience with hornets – bees and wasps, yes – hornets, no. I want to keep it that way.

Taking Fencing Lessons

Mary Welch Steinhoff with new handrail 04-26-2014Curator Jessica sent me a text bragging about her time in a triathlon Saturday morning. We exchanged a couple of messages, then I texted her, “I’m busy taking fencing lessons, so I will probably be incommunicado.”

Mother has a porch on the east side of the house overlooking a woods that is the perfect place to sit and watch the birds and squirrels. Even on the hottest day, it’s usually shaded and comfortable. A few years back, Brother Mark cleared her a pathway to go from the front yard to the back and to get to her bird feeders and hanging plants.

The surface is a bit uneven and the hill is fairly steep, so we thought we’d put up a handrail to make her meanderings a little safer. Of course, we didn’t really know what we were doing, so don’t look to closely at our handiwork.

Since Mother’s age – 92-1/2 – and her weight are about the same, I don’t think there is much danger of her knocking it over.

 The Rule of Threes

Mark repairs fountain 04-26-2014I wrote about the Rule of Threes when Kid Matt was building me a new computer. This project was worse that than. In 24 hours, I think I have been at Menard’s four times; Lowes five times and Ace Hardware at least five times. And, of course, when you are in the Big Box hardware stores, fencing materials and gardening supplies are on one side of the world and lumber is on the other.

One of the tasks Mark wanted to tackle was getting Mother’s fountain working again. We confirmed that the pump was getting power, so we deduced we were peering at a kaput pump. That was a trip to Lowes. Then, he wanted to replace a section of plastic hose with copper pipe for aesthetic reasons. That was Lowes and Ace, where he told a young worker that he was Frankensteining it and would welcome inspiration.

We got back to the house, installed the copper pipe, Gooped it in place so it wouldn’t leak, then turned on the juice. The water barely trickled out of the copper pipe. The pump was supposed to be able to handle a six-foot height, but Mark cut off about two feet of pipe to make the distance even shorter. The result wasn’t much better. He started to fill the fountain with a hose to make sure there was plenty of water for it to work with.

Leaking like a nursery school

That’s where the fountain base started leaking like a nursery school short of diapers. Water left in it at the end of the summer must have frozen during the winter and cracked the plastic.

We hit Menards again. The entrance is here, and the garden shop is waaaaaaaay over there at the far end. They didn’t have anything we liked at a price that we liked.

Back to Lowes. The entrance is here, and the garden shop is halfwaaaaaay over there. They didn’t have anything, either. And, of course, we also had to hit lumber at the far end, hardware in the middle and customer service at the entrance.

That’s just a small part of the day. My feet are killing me.

Mark went to bed three hours ago, which is where I’m headed as soon as I hit the Publish button.

Sorry for the iffy quality. I shot these with my cell phone because I didn’t have the strength to pick up a real camera.


K. Robinson’s Canteen

K Robinson canteenI shared with you yesterday’s repair adventures and Brother Mark’s owies. For the record, he claims that I miscounted: his thumb and the hammer had FOUR, not three unfortunate encounters. Score: hammer 4, thumb 0.

Sunday’s challenge was to fix the upstairs and the basement toilets that had been running at random times. The ghost flusher was causing Mother’s water bill to go sky-high and probably contributed to the low water levels in the Mississippi River below Cape.

If you’re reading this to hear how the plumbing project came out, you can quit right now. Let’s just say that it took one trip to Ace Hardware, one trip to Wife Lila’s Brother John and one trip to Lowes for supplies and to use their restroom. I’m not ready to elaborate tonight.

Uneasy on the throne

One of the tasks involved me looking above the false ceiling in the basement bathroom to the floor below the upstairs bathroom. Having graced that upstairs throne many, many times in the past, I’m surprised that I didn’t start out sitting in the upstairs bathroom and end up looking up at the ceiling in the basement. But, that’s a story for another time.

I’ll document some of the artifacts we uncovered later, but I want to tell K. Robinson of Troop 8 that we found his canteen. I’m assuming that it belongs to reader Keith Robinson who was a member of Trinity Lutheran’s Troop 8 with my brothers.

Keith, you may reclaim your canteen by stopping by Mother’s house at your convenience.


Brother Mark Gets an Owie

Mark Steinhoff repairing roof at Dutchtown 02-09-2013

Brother Mark came down from St. Louis to help me with some domestic repair jobs. Mother has two toilets that have taken to running at odd intervals and driving up her water bill. I’ve thrown new flappers at them the last couple of visits, but that doesn’t seem to have fixed the problem.

Let’s get one thing established: I am not a friend of plumbing. Like I’ve said before, I can go to change a simple washer and before long somebody is digging up the street in front of my house. Electricity obeys simple rules: It works or it don’t work. Plumbing is insidious. It’s a plotter. It appears to be perfectly happy for years, then picks 2 a.m. the day after you leave for a two-week trip to go berserk. I always peek in the window before I open the front door to see how high the water level is if I’ve been gone more than a couple of hours.

Anyway, Mark claims not to afraid of pipes, so I ceded the task to him. He says we need to replace the Douglas valves. He says that with such certainty that I feel comfortable until he adds, “It’ll go smoothly if the screws aren’t rusted (they are) and we don’t crack the ceramic (OK, thanks for telling me the kind of disaster we’re going to confront in advance). Oh, yeah, there’s one other issue. There’s no shut-off valve on the basement toilet, so I hope you can hold it until I can put one in.”

He’s going to be touching pipes that were installed 57 years ago. See any opportunities for problems?

Plumbing had to wait

Mark Steinhoff repairing roof at Dutchtown 02-09-2013But, plumbing had to wait. We had something else to tackle because it’s supposed to rain Sunday. The last storm ripped some tin from the roofs of our buildings in Dutchtown. There’s not much in them that can be hurt (the floods of ’73, ’93 and 2011 have pretty much taken care of that), but we didn’t want the wooden beams to rot.

We’ve got a short extension ladder down there, but I suggested to Mark that it would be faster and safer to rent a taller ladder that would get us (I use “us” in the royal sense) to the rooftop. I played the Medicare Card, telling Mark that once you have one of those in your wallet, you’re not allowed to prance around on rooftops. To my surprise, he agreed. That worried me. That must mean he was planning to drop heavy objects on my head.

I called a rental joint at 2 minutes past 5 only to hear the phone ring and ring and ring. Then I surmised that Wife Lila’s Brother John would have a ladder we might borrow. You might remember John from when he came to Florida to help us with some repairs.

He not only had a ladder, he was willing to loan me his manly pickup truck. I’m pretty sure he weighed the amusement value of watching the two of us try to figure out how to carry a 24-foot ladder in a Honda Odyssey against how much he liked his ladder and didn’t want to find it bent and broken on the side of the road. I thought I was going to need a stepladder to get INTO this beast. Wife Lila would have been appalled to see me cruising down the road with a pair of Truck Nutz dangling from the back of the truck if she hadn’t been the one to buy them for him as a gag gift. I don’t think she thought he would not only put them ON the truck, but he paints them to go with the season. They’re still red from last summer, but that’s OK because Missouri has had a warm winter, he justified.

We made it to Dutchtown and Mark tackled the main shed first. He said only a couple of panels of tin needed to be replaced or patched over. It turned out to be pretty much a one BLEEP! job when he discovered that a thumb that is caught between the nail and the hammer causes a large blood blister. He insisted on sharing his wound with me.

“This probably isn’t good”

Mark Steinhoff repairing roof at Dutchtown 02-09-2013We checked out a smaller row of sheds that we knew had some damage last summer. This turned out to be a two BLEEP!!! job. When he came down off the roof, he showed me his left glove thumb which was red at the end. “This probably isn’t good,” he said.

I assured him the red was simply the manufacturer’s way of color coding the glove so it was easy to tell which one was for the left hand.

When he went on the roof to make one final touchup, he wanted me to document his owie. I would have shown him more sympathy if I had known for sure that he hadn’t secreted a packet of ketchup in his coat pocket.

I can’t wait until we (meaning him) tackles the plumbing tomorrow. My job is defined as standing by with 9-1-1 entered into my phone and my finger poised over the SEND button. If you are the lowlands of Cape Girardeau or live along the Mississippi River between Cape and New Orleans, you might want to pay close attention to your alert radio. If John can do THIS – and he’s a trained professional – you can only imagine what Mark is going to do.

Mark would like you to click on the photos to make them larger so you can appreciate his sacrifice. Just remember: packets of ketchup.